GMST 100th Anniversary

logo that says 100 Years Graphic Media Science and Technology

In 1922, the Empire State School of Printing welcomed its first three students into a learning space above a grocery store in Ithaca, New York.

The school was created to provide formal training, previously offered through apprenticeships, to men and women interested in filling the rapidly growing needs of the printing industry. Through the development of strong industry ties, equipment donations, and the guidance and support of leaders in the field; the program has moved physically, evolved technologically, and been renamed multiple times. Known today as the department of Graphic Media Science and Technology, this program continues to prepare its graduates to lead the way to success in the robust marketing communications, publishing, and packaging graphics industries.

Here’s to 100 years!

  1. A map of the Ithaca area with the Empire State School of Printing location called out in the center.

    The Beginning

    1922  

    The first of many spaces.

    Alton H. Bertram, a student in 1925, recalls that there were "a dozen Linos and Intertypes of all ages and models" along with two Ludlow Typograph machines.

  2. Frank E. Gannett at his desk.

    Frank Gannett

    1930  

    Gannett's growing prominence in the newspaper field was responsible for the esteem in which he was held by his fellow publishers and in turn resulted in the prompt acceptance by the association of the recommendation of its education committee to establish a printing school.

  3. Photo of Mark Ellingson from the chest up.

    The Ellingson Era Begins

    1936  

    In 1936, John A. Randall was replaced in the presidency by Mark Ellingson. Ellingson would serve until 1969 and bring to fruition an important merger between the Empire State School of Printing and the Mechanics Institute; ultimately, bringing the Empire State School of Printing from Ithaca to Rochester as the Department of Publishing and Printing.

  4. A large room with many presses.

    The Incunabula Years

    1938  

    The economic depression of the thirties naturally began to affect enrollment early in the decade. This problem was countered by inaugurating a twelve-month schedule so that students could work longer periods in the cooperative program, a most desirable improvement for both employers and students.

  5. Two women working with type.

    The Role of Women

    1940  

    The Empire State School of Printing was one of the earliest opportunities for women to pursue formal education in the graphic communications industry. Here, students set type at the Downtown Campus.

    In 1953, Ellen Eggleton would become the first woman to receive an Associate of Applied Science from the School of Printing.

  6. 3 people using a large machine.

    Hands-on Learning

    1944  

    President Mark Ellingson and machine composition instructor, Joseph Sorace, work with convocation speaker, Ruth M. Leach.

    In recognition of the increasingly specialized professional nature of its programs, the university adopts the name it holds today: Rochester Institute of Technology.

  7. Andrew S. Lawson in front of shelves.

    Alexander S. Lawson

    1947  

    Alexander Lawson, a student demonstrating exceptional skills, was asked to become an instructor in 1947. In 1969, he was appointed as RIT’s first Melbert B. Cary Jr. Professorship in Graphic Arts, named after the noted graphic artist and life-long supporter of the graphic arts. Lawson held the post until retirement in 1977.

  8. 2 men operating an inkometer.

    Inkometer

    1952  

    Virgil Barta, who lead RIT’s Graphic Arts Research Division, watches Vernon Watson use an inkometer, a measuring instrument to measure the “tack” (adhesiveness) of an ink with the roller system on an offset press.

    At this time, RIT is a center of research on all aspects of the graphic arts.

  9. Men in suits standing behind a person using a large piece of equipment.

    Linotype Machine

    1953  

    George Kartis, student, operating a Linotype machine. Also in photo: William Biracree, Jr., President, Rochester Club of Printing House Craftsmen; Robert Du Bois, President, Printing Industry Association of Rochester; RIT President Mark Ellingson; Milton Williamson, President, Rochester Industrial Advertisers.

  10. A group of Gamma Epsilon Tau students from RIT.

    Student Clubs

    1955  

    Beginning in 1955, student clubs become an integral component of the program’s student experience. Gamma Epsilon Tau, a national, co-educational collegiate honors fraternity for graphic arts education competes at an annual conference with a student produced research journal. They are a student chapter for The Technical Association of the Graphic Arts (TAGA), an international community of industry professionals and academics dedicated to scientific research and technological innovation in the diverse field of graphic communications.

  11. A photo of the newly constructed Xerox Tower circa 1967.

    The Support of Industry

    1956  

    Equipment donations included a Xerox camera, copier, and fuser, the earliest commercial version of what was to become the ubiquitous Xerox Copier.

    The Xerox Tower became an iconic part of the downtown Rochester skyline starting in 1967.

  12. A student places a print on a piece of reproduction equipment.

    Leading in Education

    1957  

    With the continuing increase in enrollment, due in part to the wide welcome of the new four-year program terminating in a BS degree and the end of WWII, the Department of Printing was now settling down into what the administration conceived to be its role as the pace-setter in American graphic arts education.

  13. Men typing on Monotype keyboards.

    Experienced Faculty

    1960  

    “The professional objectives of this department demand faculty members who are highly competent in their areas of specialization and who at the same time have a keen interest in teaching young people.”

    Just a decade later out of the twenty-nine printing instructors twenty-seven would hold degrees at or above the baccalaureate level.

  14. Man working on a print publication.

    Early Facilities

    1961  

    Students in the print program worked on and supported multiple projects for large-scale players in the publishing industry.

    This student is seen working on an issue of Kodakery, a newspaper for US Kodak employees, in the layout lab in the Clark Building at the Downtown Campus.

  15. People in a typesetting room.

    Mark Guldin

    1962  

    Mark Guldin, leading a tour of visitors, joined RIT as a faculty member in 1961 and became dean of the College of Graphic Arts and Photography in 1982.

  16. Man at podium presenting. On the screen beside him can be seen the logo for the Gravure Association.

    Twenty-Five Years

    1963  

    In its twenty-fifth year in Rochester, the School of Printing celebrates a period of continuous growth in every facet of its operation. From an enrollment of eighteen students interested primarily in becoming journeymen printers, the student body is now composed of 417 undergraduates looking forward to being in the forefront of graphic arts leadership in the quarter of a century ahead. In 1965 Flexography and Gravure Printing become part of the curriculum.

    The program continues to celebrate the Gravure Printing process at an annual summit (pictured here). 

  17. A view of the front of Gannett Hall.

    Gannett Hall

    1968  

    RIT moves from downtown Rochester to its current Henrietta location. Gannett Hall is one of the original Henrietta buildings, and is still the primary location for the program—housing the program for over 50 years.

  18. Students using a DC-300B scanner.

    Advancements in Equipment

    1976  

    Students observe a professor demonstrating proper use of printing equipment.

    An MBO folding machine for bindery is donated. Now all major printing processes are represented on campus with current industry equipment.

  19. A headshot of Isaiah Thomas.

    The Isaiah Thomas Award in Publishing

    1979  

    Named for one of America’s great patriot printers, this award has been bestowed on Industry notables since 1979 when Ronald White of Rockwell International accepted the prestigious award. Other recipients include Katharine Graham, Washington Post Company (1983); Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, New York Times Company (1984); Dona Violet a Barrios De Chamorro, Sra. Expresidenta de Nicaragua (1998); and Thomas Curley, The Associated Press (2005).

  20. A group of students watching a professor demo.

    The 80s

    1980  

    250 Printing freshmen arrive in September matching the predicted economic revival of the printing industry. With 661 students now enrolled, the School of Printing approaches the population envisioned in its original blueprints back in the 1960s.

  21. People looking at a press proof and color key.

    A Splash of Color

    1984  

    In 1983 a SCR-40 Scanning densitometer, a Linotype/Paul scanner, and a Compugraphics typesetter are donated.

    Seen here, in a course in web offset printing on the Harris M-1000B press, Daniel Clark, T&E Center pressman, describes to students how to ‘fine tune’ the color balance of the inks from the remote console by checking against the color key.

  22. Professor showing 2 students color relationships.

    Ink and Paper

    1986  

    Professor Joseph Brown uses a colorimeter to measure ink/paper color relationships.

  23. Collage of company logos that are mentioned in this timeline year's description.

    Expansion of Industry Partnership

    2001  

    The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation renews its partnership with RIT’s Printing Industry Center, awarding The Printing Industry Center $250,000.

    Industry partners pledge money to help fund the center’s operations and advise RIT’s researchers on topics critical to the printing industry. 

  24. Guy holding a book with photos of himself over his face.

    The Open Publishing Lab

    2007  

    The Open Publishing Lab (OPL) opens. A cross-disciplinary center that focuses on researching new methods of content creation and developing innovative applications to publish across various media, the lab’s projects tackle the challenge of bringing digital content created by the various Web 2.0 applications back to print in an on demand, appropriately formatted and finished form. In this way, digital content can reside side by side with other traditional printed content, but also take advantage of the enhanced user generated concepts of Web 2.0 capabilities. This space wins an HP Innovation Research Award in 2008.

  25. 5 men look at a colorful print proof.

    Endowed Professorships

    2010  

    Today, the department houses several Endowed Professorships:

    • The Gannett Endowed Professorship
    • Melbert B. Cary Endowed Professorship
    • Paul and Louise Miller Endowed Professorship
    • Fawcett Endowed Professorship
    • Gravure Endowed Professorship
  26. Collage of 4 photos of 4 people presenting.

    Awards

    2014  

    The Melbert B. Cary Jr. Distinguished Professor in RIT’s School of Media Sciences routinely presents the prestigious Melbert B. Cary Jr. Award to someone who is making tremendous steps forward in the graphic arts industry. Previous recipients are:

    • Stephen Nigro, president of HP Inc.’s 3D printing business
    • Charles Hull, the co-founder and chief technology officer of 3D Systems, widely considered the “father of 3D printing”
    • Frank Steenburgh, senior vice president for business growth, Production Systems Group at Xerox Corp.
    • John Dreyer, chairman of Pitman Company
    • Dan Gelbart, president and founder of Creo Products Inc.
  27. A student designs product packaging on her computer.

    Digital Design

    2015  

    A graduate student uses design software to create the engaging print component for a product's packaging to ensure that it stands out in today's saturated product market.

  28. A student stands beside a poster of himself in a conference hall.

    Rising Stars

    2018  

    Student Nick Gawreluk holds a poster of himself at a graphic communications expo. Nick wins a College of Engineering Technology Rising Star Award after graduating in 2021. He is now the Global Sales Operations Manager, Software Solutions at Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG.

  29. Student adjusting a press.

    An Innovative Move

    2020  

    The School of Media Sciences changes its name to the Department of Graphic Media Science and Technology and moves from the College of Art and Design to the College of Engineering Technology.

    This change supports more collaborative and integrated programing in packaging and engineering technology. Packaging represents a growth market in the graphic communications industry and the interdisciplinary nature of both degree programs better position students for careers and research initiatives, including those in the printed electronics industry.

  30. Collage of 4 photos with faculty and students.

    100th Anniversary

    2022  

    Now the Department of Graphic Media Science and Technology, this program proudly celebrates 100 years of history, industry partnership, and student success.

Our Story

Great things have happened in 100 years! Innovation in technologies, partnerships built, awards won, and leadership positions earned. Learn more about the then and now, where we’ve been, and where we’re going.

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