Professor R. Roger Remington
Rochester Institute of Technology

 

Thoughts on Rob Roy Kelly
It is a humbling experience to be in the presence of a pioneer in one’s discipline. And so it has been for me as I have known Rob Roy Kelly, as both a colleague and a friend. My first contact with Kelly came as I wrote to him in Minneapolis, asking for help identifying a wood type font. He responded right away with the information and that was the beginning of what has become a nearly fifty year professional relationship. Kelly has been a significant influence in my career in design education. I recall visiting him at Kansas City Art Institute enroute to Aspen one summer. This was during the golden age of that great design program. Kelly, full of himself as usual, showed me through the exhibit of student work explaining pedagogy through example. This experience had a deep impact on my own thinking as I was to go on in the 1970s at RIT to guide what has become the present Graphic Design Program here. We were able to hire James Bare, a KCAI graduate, who brought a powerful quality of Kelly’s influence. During these years Kelly came ro RIT as a guest lecturer several times and then, in 1975, Kelly was in residence at RIT as the Kern Institute Professor of Communications. As I recall, his year of tenure here was irritating to some (administration) and constructive to others (faculty and students.) Kelly saw his role at RIT as a catalyst who affects change.

Looking back, why is Rob Roy Kelly a pioneer in graphic design education?
I feel it is because he

• developed and reined innovative pedagogy in teaching graphic design

•bridged the gap between academia and the community with his various community design projects

• stressed the importance of viable foundation program experiences in graphic design

• created connections with Swiss teachers and schools as a way of upgrading the ways in which formal values are taught in graphic design

• made major contributions to research about the history of design through his work on American wood types

• made it his business to create a constant stream of critical writings

• never compromised his views and opinions

• persevered in promoting his vision of quality professionalism in graphic design education

It is my intent with this project that Kelly’s significant ideas on design education be documented and made available for a wider audience. Hopefully the students who have worked on this project, as well as new readers of the text, will benefit from the wisdom of this great design educator.

 

   
   


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