Teaching Philosophy

As a professor dedicated to the rigors of the field, I hope to inspire students to discover, discuss, understand, and appreciate ideas. My classroom balances the practical nature of the profession with the creative aesthetic voice.

Participation in critical analysis, research, advanced education and ethical practices are essential. Graduates from the Graphic Design program have gone on to contribute sustainable success in many facets of our field including advertising, web design, packaging, art direction and graphic design.

Our role is not to just arrange words and images on a page to please a client for profit, but to consider their economic, social, political, cultural and creative contexts. I try to develop a community of students within our program that shares information and will positively impact business and society.

It was my good fortune, during my under graduate and graduate education, to have been under the tutelage of a visionary, Dr. Victor Papanek. A founder of “Earth Day” and author of Design for the Real World, he is considered the father of sustainable design. His statement, “Design is the conscious effort to impose a meaningful order,” remains an inspiration to me as I communicate my vision of design to my students.

Other designers and architects have inspired and help shape my design philosophy including Walter Gropius (founder of the Bauhaus), Frank Lloyd Wright, and designer Ruby Vanderlands, (design critic and publisher of “Émigré magazine.)

Teaching – Job Responsibilities
The last two years, I have taught Introduction to Graphic Design, Layout Design, Advanced Typography and Professional Preparation. I have supervised the Graphic Design Internships.

The jobs our students acquire after graduation attest to my success in the classroom. A supporting excerpt from the 2009 Graphic Design program promotional catalog lists many of the corporate, design and advertising agencies where our graduates found employment. Also, we have received many awards from the American Advertising Federation and the American Institute for Graphic Arts. In 2022, one student won a AAF-KC Addy award Gold, regional SILVER and is now competing on the National level.

A specific project, “Bottle Packaging Series & Campaign,” from my Advanced Typography class, illustrates how I communicate design objectives, specifications, traditional and digital technical techniques, and advanced design practices. I have included the project handout and examples of student work. Many students entering design competitions on my recommendation have won AAF and AIGA awards, most notably, a National Gold and National Silver ADDY.

I work closely with the Graphic Design faculty to keep our curriculum standards current. Our advisory committee and alumni help drive program and course modifications. Recently in 2019, my colleagues and I made modifications to all the classes in the Graphic Design program. It is imperative that I stay current with graphic software and technological trends. This allows me to impart the use of technology in all my classes, and specifically the class project: “Building a MailChimp account for developing e-Blasts” for my Advanced Typography class. As sponsor of the Graphic Design club, a Slack group for coordinating the Graduating Recruitment showcase. Besides making my Canvas course shells robust, I have supplemental WordPress blogs that allow students to access visual work, examples, specifications and links. These involvements demonstrate the use of my knowledge and skills.

As part of my teaching duties, I am in liaison with adjuncts for Advanced Typography, Professional Preparation, Advanced Design Practice and Introduction to Graphic Design classes. It is rewarding and refreshing to work closely with working professionals. This provides adjuncts with classroom guidance and insures learning outcomes. It also helps keep my teaching skills fresh.

During my tenure at JCCC I became lead instructor of our capstone course, Professional Preparation. Over time, I have modified the course outline to stay current with learning outcomes necessary for success in the field. Extensive discussions with our Advisory Committee members and other design professionals have confirmed these modifications. The course now includes a traditional classic portfolio and resume, and also the development of a branding system that includes promotional materials. More recently, I have established the development of a digital on-line portfolio. These changes have helped students be better prepared for the job market.

In 2000, I brought the idea of a graduating recruitment showcase to our graduating (senior) students, inspired by the annual showcases held by the Kansas City Art Institute and the University of Kansas Design Program. I recognized the potential for a similar show promoting our graduates, so I founded and organized our annual “senior” Graduating Recruitment Showcase. Invitations are extended to the industry to view portfolios, meet the graduates and collect resumes. These shows are critical to the placement of our graduates. This yearly event takes considerable time during the year, to which I continue to donate my time.

Previous shows have been a resounding success. The Graduating Recruitment Showcase has allowed students to promote their skills and secure employment in the field. Our students’ portfolios are competitive with and often superior to the four-year programs in our area. As advisor, I oversee all aspects of this show, securing funding for the venue, coordinating fundraising events to support the show, serving as advisor to the Graphic Design Club, selecting the caterer, coordinating the promotional materials, extending invitations and managing the students’ exhibits.

As part of the fundraising efforts for the showcase, I planned and coordinated a Portfolio Day for a number of years in the fall semesters. I invite sixteen-twenty alumni to donate their time to review student work. The event concluded as I moderated a lively panel discussion on preparing for employment.

My management of the Recruitment Showcase dovetails with the professional design community. I work with the Kansas City Chapter of the American Advertising Federation. Annually, I bring students to the career day and help to coordinate entries to the AAF “Addy” awards and AIGA student award competition. In 2008, the Kansas City Chapter of the American Advertising Federation honored me for “Excellence in Advertising Education Award,” the first such award bestowed.

Service to JCCC
As s member of the Graphic Design faculty I made it my mission to develop recruiting materials for the graphic design program. Two sabbaticals ago, fall 2011, I used my time to design and implement a recruiting catalogue for print and web. This included alumni profiles, dynamic copy promoting the value of our degree and an enticing student project gallery. I also added to the graphic design JCCC website page by designing a student gallery, Facebook fan page to promote students, alumni and faculty, and produced alumni profiles and launched them with YouTube on the college site. This will enhance the college’s appeal to our region’s most promising students.

During my last sabbatical, Spring of 2020 I mentored with Bob Atkins of Skylab Letterpress where I learned hands on how to work on a manual press and on word with Bob on the mechanical Heidelberg. I also developed a Special Topics course which is being taught by Bob Spring of 2022.

I have made contributions to department activities. I advise Graphic Design majors every semester prior to registration. This is an activity I instituted when I was serving as Program Facilitator and it is now a part of our ongoing semester activities.

As part of the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Division, I have been a long-standing contributor to the Information Technology Planning Committee. With technology being so critical to our instruction, I help to determine priorities based on consultations with faculty within our division. I also serve as an advocate for the division at a college-wide level regarding decisions pertinent to funding for technology when asked.

For the past twenty-nine years, I have collaborated within our division, working with the Theater Department at JCCC. Students in my Advanced Typography class design the play posters and other promotional materials for the annual theater productions. Examples of student play posters and a letter from the Technical Coordinator for Theatre are included in my supporting documentation.

I served on the college-wide Art & Design Building Taskforce taking part in discussions on classroom learning space, computer labs, critique rooms, collaborative gallery space, and the need to work with “green” architectural standards. This included visits to outstanding colleges and institutions that use “green” cutting-edge building materials and design. The final result is the new Fine Arts + Design building.

As requested by President Callaway, I worked two years with MOCSA (The Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault). My students in Advanced Typography developed multiple campaigns, which will be used in the coming years. This community outreach teaches the students the importance of returning service to their community.

Working with a not-for profit group was so rewarding tor my students and client. This has lead me, on an annual basis, to seek out non-profit groups in need of a design campaign for a group project in Advanced Typography class.  I have worked with the Community Housing of Wyandotte County, and this year with the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra.

Spring 2008, the Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs asked that I attend a conference at the Savannah School of Art & Design to participate in MUSE (Measuring Unique Studies Effectively). The conference was collaborative and discussed best practices for program assessment in the field of art and design. This sparked my interest in visiting art & design colleges across the US, and in the Netherlands while on my Dutch Exchange. I had rewarding conversations about design curriculum and best practices for assessment with colleagues.

As a professional educator, I am always looking to improve my teaching. Success with graduates is evidence of positive outcomes. I have continued to freelance and volunteer my design services in my community. I also create personal artwork and have donated to the JCCC Nerman Museum art auction since it’s inception.

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