By Shelby Otto
KU’s Department of Communication Design has recently been ranked as No.1 on “College Factual” for “Best for the Money” design program in the state of Pennsylvania and No. 12 in the United States.
According to CD department chair and professor, Denise Bosler, this means KU’s CD students are receiving “an excellent education at a very affordable price” in comparison to other universities across the state.
From this vantage point, KU is competing with private universities like Marywood University in Scranton, Pa., and widely recognized names like Pennsylvania State University.
The “Best for the Money” ranking is meant to highlight the correlation between quality education and student success versus the cost of going to the university itself. Bosler said the “College Factual” survey takes into account, “what an expected college graduate salary is versus how much they spent for school, the total amount of student loan debt, the program’s diversity breakdown” and many other determining factors.
When asked why KU’s CD program is so successful, Bosler emphasized that more than anything, “One of the things that we hear back from most of our students is how prepared they are.”
According to the press release on KU’s website, CD students are taught “a common foundation of art and design knowledge in their freshman and sophomore years” and are then able to follow that, “building specialized knowledge through upper-level coursework in graphic design, advertising design, illustration and interactive design.”
Since Bosler herself is an alumna of the program and worked in the industry prior to returning to the university, she is able to vouch for this and work that experience into her own educating practices.
According to communication design professor Vicki Meloney, the design field is extremely competitive and it is hard to be successful in if you do not absolutely enjoy what you do.
“We foster that love of design in our students,” she said, also stating that faculty instills “appreciation for visual communication [in students] through out-of-class events,” such as this month’s annual Designathon.
Going into its 14th year, Designathon is an 18- to 24-hour event that allows for faculty, students and alumni to collaborate on a multitude of design projects meant to benefit local not-for-profit organizations and companies.
Each year, the department event receives over 100 students’ participation, almost the entire faculty and anywhere from 15 to 20 alumni. On average, the event works with 35-42 companies and organizations, creating and completing projects that these places would not normally be able to afford.
“Most are local businesses because we like to serve our community. We like to teach the students how to give back,” Bosler said.
“We are most impressed by the quality of design that our students do,” Meloney states. Students put together projects such as posters, logos, brochures and murals during this time.
A prominent example of a Designathon project includes the Keith Haring-inspired mural on the back of the Kutztown Community Library. The event also works to create promotional advertisements, brand material and even web design for local organizations and companies.
In this way, students are able to find a specialization they are interested in without conforming to the tradition of “concentrations,” a practice where students focus on only one specialized topic and receive an education in that field alone, which can often be very limited in such a technologically diverse society.
KU’s design program introduces students to the industry of our contemporary era, where individuals of the trade work in a multiplicity of practices among various teams and groups.
“While it’s an honor to receive this recognition, [professors] in the CD department don’t find it that shocking,” Meloney claims. “We feel like the work we do every day rivals the bigger schools.”
Not only are KUCD students receiving a quality education in accordance with money spent, they are being taught to share that talent, passion and education with the local community, learning how to apply those skills to the real world around them and, finally, being recognized holistically and individually as both an artistic student body and as creative individuals.
“Our students are successful,” Bosler stated. “That is our goal; that is our ‘why.’”