technology lets us shop via e-commerce and communicate by e-mail.
But what does it all mean for the future of the printed words?
|David Pankow is
curator of the Cary Collection, a renowned repository of materials
related to printing and the graphic arts, housed at RIT’s
From inside his office
on the second floor of RITs Wallace Library, David Pankow
frequently hears that question. As curator of the Cary Collection,
a nationally recognized graphic arts resource center, he studies
the transformation of the information age to the digital era –
where information is more frequently shared electronically.
What will happen
to print? he considers. Is it going away? The evidence
indicates that will not happen. Print maintains a function in
society that simply cannot be replaced.
Frank Romano, the Roger
K. Fawcett Distinguished Professor of Digital Publishing in RITs
School of Print Media, cant help but chuckle as he relays
a recent conversation on the subject.
I got a call
from a reporter at Business Week, and his opening line
was, ‘Print is dead. I said, ‘Where did you
hear that? And he said, ‘I read it somewhere.
RIT plays an important
role in assuring the evolution of print. The School of Print Media
maintains a world-class reputation, and the recent creation of
the Printing Industry Center at RIT enhances that. As a Sloan
Industry Center, it is dedicated to studying and analyzing major
business-environment influences in the printing industry. The
center is a partnership between RIT, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
and printing industry leaders.
Other resources include
RITs Printing Applications Laboratory, which provides the
industry with a facility for applied research. The Heidelberg
Web Press Laboratory, dedicated in April, serves as the centerpiece
of PALs activities. Printing professionals turn to the
universitys Industry Education Programs to enhance their
skills and knowledge base. And the Cary Collection remains one
of the countrys premier resources on the history and practices
Harvard of printing
The origin of printing
and print-media education at RIT dates to 1937. Since then, the
school has evolved to meet the changing nature of the industry.
The School of Printing Management and Sciences became the School
of Print Media last year, reflecting the ongoing integration of
print and new media communication. The school offers a B.S. degree
in graphic media, and last year teamed up with RITs B.
Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences
on a B.S. degree program in new media publishing.
|Barb Pellow, chair,
School of Print Media
Graduate programs within
the School of Print Media include print media and graphic arts
publishing. Theres also an accelerated B.S./M.B.A. in graphic
media offered jointly with the College of Business.
finding is that an interdisciplinary approach is very important,
says Barb Pellow, SPM chair. Print is linked to Web sites,
which are linked to direct mail companies. So what these companies
look for is a very interdisciplinary approach, offering them flexibility
in how they communicate with their consumers.
The strength of the
educational opportunities offered by the school is apparent through
more than just its worldwide reputation. The excellence displayed
by its students continues to earn critical acclaim. For example,
RITs chapter of the Technical Association of the Graphic
Arts (TAGA) recently claimed the top prize in TAGAs Student
Chapter Publication Competition for the third consecutive year.
Trish Boyle Witkowski
95 and 99 (B.F.A. and M.S., graphic arts and publishing)
used her RIT education to develop a multi-faceted career. In addition
to her role as creative director for a marketing and communications
firm in Baltimore, Witkowski owns a business with her husband,
Mark Witkowski 97 (M.S., graphic systems). Finishing Experts
Group Inc. focuses on education and the implementation of standards
for the design and print-finishing industry.
|Trish Boyle Witkowski
’95 and ’99 and Mark Witkowski ’97 founded
a company focused on education and standards for the design
and print-finishing industry.
Their flagship publication,
FOLD: The Professionals Guide to Folding, creates
a system for the printing and design industry by standardizing
the folding process. Witkowski credits her RIT connections for
helping to get the project running.
I had to move
away from Rochester to fully understand the significance of an
RIT degree, she reflects. People throughout the
industry recognize it as the Harvard of printing programs.
Witkowski is among
nearly 5,300 alumni with degrees in printing from RIT, many holding
leadership positions in the industry. Bruce James 64, chair
of RITs Board of Trustees, is a notable example. Early
this year, James was sworn-in as U.S. Public Printer, in charge
of all government publication. Another RIT alumnus, William Turri
62, has been appointed Deputy Public Printer.
Many members of the
industry wonder what it will take to keep printing viable in this
digital era. These concerns are what drive the Printing Industry
Center at RIT.
and Frank Cost ’87, directors of the Printing Industry
Center at RIT
Most of what
happens before ink meets paper is now digital, explains
Frank Cost 87, associate dean of the College of Imaging
Arts and Sciences. Research conducted by the Printing Industry
Center is critical in reevaluating the role of the printed word.
Under the direction
of Cost and Patricia Sorce, associate professor of marketing in
the College of Business, the center examines various dynamics
of the industry such as the long-term role of new technologies
and the evolution of digital media. Findings are shared with industry
personnel through published articles and an annual symposium held
on the RIT campus. Ultimately, the goal is to formulate a rational
understanding of opportunities for business expansion, technology
adoption and cost reduction.
Companies like Nexpress
highlight the industrys transformation. As a joint venture
between Heidelberg and Eastman Kodak, the company manufacturers
digital printing presses. RIT alumnus Venkat Purushotham 80
and 81 (B.S. printing management, M.S. imaging science),
president and CEO of Nexpress, believes new technology makes print
a more dynamic tool.
’80 and ’81, president and CEO of Nexpress
Print is being
revitalized, he says. Its becoming more responsive,
allowing users to communicate in a targeted, personalized fashion.
From mass production to mass customization, it can benefit even
communities of a few.
The support of industry
partners like Nexpress is critical to the success of the Printing
Industry Center. The partners foster the exchange of expertise
between industry leaders and faculty, provide cooperative education
opportunities for SPM students, and contribute equipment and technology.
Top of the
One of the more notable
partnerships is with Heidelberg. In April, RIT dedicated the new
Heidelberg Web Press Laboratory located in the expanded Louise
M. Slaughter Building. The centerpiece of this laboratory is a
state-of-the-art Sunday 2000 web press, consigned to RIT by Heidelberg.
our technology partnership with RIT, we understood from the beginning
that only our newest, most advanced printing system would do,
says Werner Albrecht, president of Heidelberg Web Systems.
And while SPM students
draw tremendous benefits from the new press, so does the industry
as a whole. RITs Printing Applications Laboratory will
use the system in collaboration with web offset printers and suppliers
on applied research projects.
professor of digital publishing
The multi-million dollar
press is believed to be the largest commitment of resources by
a vendor to an educational institution in the industrys
history. In addition, 17 other industry suppliers have offered
additional support to the Heidelberg Web Press Laboratory by providing
components and consumables valued at more than $1.6 million.
The value of these
partnerships goes beyond the equipment they provide. Representatives
of many companies offer their expertise on campus – visiting
classrooms and sponsoring lectures.
It makes the
education at RIT a much richer experience for our students,
explains Romano. The classroom becomes a window on the
world, and thats what those relationships give us.
gain something in return. Many turn to RIT to enhance their own
expertise and to gain a better understanding of the latest technology.
Industry Education Programs are incorporated within the Printing
Industry Center. Educational seminars are available at RIT, or
they can be customized for delivery in the workplace. RIT has
been offering educational programs for members of the printing
industry since 1951.
With all these educational
opportunities and technological resources, the traditional tools
and products of printing remain an important part of the RIT landscape.
The Cary Collection houses more than 50,000 volumes and a growing
number of manuscripts and correspondence collections.
Visitors to the Cary
Collection are also treated to an assortment of famous 19th century
iron handpresses and letterpresses, accompanied by the necessary
trappings for printing. This rare equipment allows for practical
research on various aspects of printing and graphic communications
history. But its not all just about the past.
We are a guide
for where the industry is going in the future, states Pankow.
We dont intend to stop with the printed books. In
fact, weve already begun collecting early examples of born-digital
publications. Its a whole new era of publishing technology
that scholars will study in the future.