For many years, prospective Ithaca College students visiting the art department in the School of Humanities and Sciences expressed interest in a graphic design program, which the college did not offer, until now.
Approved March 27, graphic design will be offered as a minor to all students at the college. Combining classes from art, strategic communication and computer science, the graphic design minor will be housed in the art department, but will include the technology and communication programs the college already offers.
Susan Weisend, chair of the art department, said the new minor, which has been in the works for over two years, will appeal to students from all majors because of its inclusivity while still being art-based.
Weisend said the minor will build on what the Roy H. Park School of Communications and the computer science departments already offer in relation to graphic design–based classes.
“We didn’t want to repeat what’s going on in the Park School,” Weisend said. “We rather wanted to complement what was happening on campus, and we wanted to approach this from an artist’s point of view.”
Sharon Stansfield, chair of the Department of Computer Science, has worked closely with Weisend since the minor’s conception. She said the technological component is crucial to the minor and augments the artistic aspect.
“If you look at graphic design programs at other schools, you’ll see that computation is very integral to these programs,” Stansfield said. “Graphic design minors should learn both the design and computer skills necessary to create print and digital imagery.”
As more students inquired about graphic design, the communications school, partnering with the art department, began offering an experimental Introduction to Graphic Design course during the Fall 2013 semester and each semester since to assess student interest in the subject.
“When we offered the course experimentally, it was over-enrolled each time,” Weisend said. “The artwork that came out of it was very strong, and the students really responded to the course. Right away we knew this was a course that had interest.”
Weisend said the department is now looking for a tenure-track professor to run the graphic design program. Currently the art department has 42 student majors and 38 minors, with only five full-time faculty members. Once the graphic design professor is chosen, which Weisend said should be soon, the minor will be up and running.
Current interested students may be able to complete the minor before graduation depending on their previous coursework and credit availability. Weisend said students are excited to hear about the minor and even helped in its creation.
“Anytime I’ve mentioned it to students as a possibility, they’re always very positive,” Weisend said. “The students gave us a lot of feedback about the interest in the minor, particularly a group of students who will be graduating next year.”
Junior art major in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program Jon Yoskin was one of the students looking into the potential for a graphic design minor. Yoskin said he is unsure if he will be able to complete the minor in time for his graduation, but he said he is happy to be able leave this minor as an opportunity for future students.
“If anything, I’d just love to see it grow and see some talented graphic designers come out of Ithaca, because you know the talent is there,” Yoskin said.
Yoskin said the minor was needed at the college because graphic design is an emerging field, connecting art, communications and technology.
“Graphic design is the field that I want to go into, and coming to a school that didn’t actually have a program for it was a little bit frustrating,” Yoskin said.
Although graphic design was not previously offered at the college, Yoskin self-designed his own program, taking art, communications and computer science classes, trying to get as much experience as possible without the title of graphic design.
“I was trying to find my own way to take graphic design classes, even if that wasn’t what it was called,” Yoskin said. “To have a program now actually called graphic design with more of a structure is really exciting to me.”
Stansfield also said she is optimistic about the new program.
“I think that this is an exciting minor and its interdisciplinary nature makes it important to the college’s goals and to students’ experiences both on campus and after graduation,” Stansfield said.
The new graphic design option will become the second minor in the art department, the first being a minor in art. Weisend now tells prospective students about the new minor, and she said they often express interest. She said she is looking forward to the opportunities this program will open up.
“I’m really thrilled it’s becoming a reality, and I’m so looking forward to the new professor in our department and our students having more possibilities and more course offerings,” Weisend said. “I think it has a bright future here.”