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Management Leading Programs page 7

 
 

Student Work Records
At student semester reviews, faculty pulled the best of student work to make record slides. This practice is extremely important as the slides can be used as teaching aids, for recruitment or lectures at other institutions or presentations in the community. We used the slides to keep administrators abreast of what was happening in the program or as credentials in soliciting funding for community or research projects. The slides were important in curricula planning as the faculty could lay out slides representing work for the entire year on a large light table. We could see where we needed to put more emphasis, inject new course content or change sequence. Student work records are an invaluable asset for any program. It is also good to keep an updated file on faculty work.

 

Graphic Design Alumni Records
At The Minneapolis School of Art and The Kansas City Art Institute, I kept alumni records and lost track of only three students over a twenty year period. We started to keep alumni records at Arizona State University but my tenure there was too short to be effective. My experience has been that alumni records are of immense value to the ongoing program. Alumni proved to be the most effective means for placing students after graduation.

Alumni were scattered over the entire country and with a phone call, you could obtain information regarding hiring in that area. Or, graduates working for firms that were hiring would call me to say there were jobs available. Every two years we published the list of alumni and mailed it out to them. Most would stay in contact with the program because they wanted each new listing. Graduates who wanted to work in a particular location would look in the alumni listing to find if any previous graduate was working there. If so, they could call them, make inquiry, or contact them when they arrived to look for work. Often it was a place to sleep even though a davenport while they were interviewing. As many students had found their first job through this avenue, they were always willing to help a new graduate.

In time, alumni were working in a variety of design capacities throughout the country, and frequently we brought them back to the school to talk to students. Alumni have a credibility with students that makes these visits worthwhile.

We passed out alumni forms to each Senior prior to graduation. The key question on the form was to list a phone number for parents or a relative that would always know where they were located.

Even though every institution has an alumni office, it is best done within the program. It is important that any records done within the department are passed on to the institutional alumni office. They are always pleased with the assistance and are cooperative when you need something from their office. I usually had a work-grant student each year who kept the records updated.

At Arizona State University, we published a newsletter in conjunction with the alumni program. The newsletter was not only an added incentive for alumni to stay in contact, but it was also an excellent promotional tool both within and outside the university. We used it for recruitment and promotional purposes. On a larger scale, I think it would be excellent if all Graphic Design programs could publish a newsletter once a year as a means of better knowing what is going on at all the different institutions.

 

Course Scheduling
During the early 1960s, the Graphic Design program at The Minneapolis School of Art was in its formative stages. New faculty and courses were being added each year. At the same time, the school was in the throes of making the transition from a non-accredited to an accredited institution. Any changes in program had to go through a Curriculum Committee rather than just the Director. The committee was composed mainly of Fine Arts personnel and they were not altogether pleased with the expansion of the Graphic Design program. At least once or twice each year, I would go before the Curriculum Committee to request changes or additions in the credits or curricula of Graphic Design. The committee was becoming increasingly annoyed with the constant changes, and each new proposal became more difficult to get approved.

In desperation, and with fingers crossed, I went before the committee with the proposal that we have only one listing for Graphic Design for each semester of the three years. Nine credit courses in the Sophomore year, twelve credit courses in the Junior year and Senior year. If the Curriculum Committee would approve this proposal, there would be no need for Graphic Design to come before the committee again. They approved it.

With a large block of credits each semester, the faculty divided the hours into separate courses. The significance of this was that students failing any class within the block failed the entire course. This pressured students to put effort into all their classes and not concentrate on just those they favored. This arrangement gave us maximum flexibility in using the time. We could teach one subject a shorter length of time and teach another course the balance of the semester. We could extend or contract time allocation within a class depending on student progress. We could team-teach or combine classes without complications. Student evaluation was done through review by the entire faculty. In order that individual faculty integrity could be maintained, it was agreed that any one faculty member could fail the student. This option was exercised only two or three times over a twenty year period, and then with the concurrence of other faculty members.

Alvin Lustig had once commented that teachers often complained about the inability of students to grasp the interrelationships between the different areas of design, but the educational system itself pigeonholed different subjects with separate classes, grades and teachers. Our experience with block scheduling with one grade for several courses did help students to better understand interrelationships. It helped us to be more effective in evaluating students as we could point out qualities in one area that were not applied to another. We could better identify weaknesses and strengths in student work and it brought the faculty closer together as a team. This is the most productive scheduling system in my experience. We also used the same block schedules at The Kansas City Art Institute and it worked equally as well. Even though the block system of scheduling is sound and works, it is difficult to implement at most schools and nearly impossible at state institutions.

At state schools, a variation of this practice was to set aside one day of a class meeting three times a week to teach a mini-course in another subject. For some lectures or courses it was possible to use the last hour of one class period to do the same. This strategy is particularly useful at state universities where it is time-consuming and difficult to add new courses to the curriculum. At state institutions, it is perhaps quicker and easier to extend hours and credits in an existing course than to put a new one in the catalogue. The extended classes can then be broken down into two or more courses. My experience has been that it takes two to five years to add a new course to the curriculum in state schools.

 

Course Scheduling (continued) >

 

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