New major to keep up with media trends

Story by Katie Thurbon

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In the ever-changing media industry, the Baker University Mass Media and Visual Arts Department hopes to stay abreast of the times by introducing a new major.

Faculty Senate approved a graphic design major on Feb. 18, and it now must pass through the Board of Trustees before officially being put in the books for the next academic year.

“What this major will do is incorporate the best components of studio art with elements of media and technology,” Joe Watson, associate professor of mass media and chair of the department, said. “So we’re very excited about the way that it’s going to tap into both sides of the department in a really unique way for the first time.”

The requirements for the major will include drawing coupled with computer-based classes such as digital photography and digital media. All courses required by the major are already offered at Baker with the exception of Graphic Design II, which has been approved to be offered in the fall of 2014.

Art faculty member Jennifer Jarnot said she has advocated for this major for several years.

“I wanted a way to move the studio art program into the 21st century, just to keep up with the current trends and technology in this field of study,” Jarnot said.

Baker already has several students who created interdisciplinary graphic design majors by working with the two departments on their own personalized plans. One such student is senior Ashley Payne.

“I started out in broadcasting and got an internship in radio and ended up doing a lot of graphics for the station,” Payne said. “Graphic design has been something that is my passion, and we didn’t have it here at Baker, so I went and asked if it was possible to do an interdisciplinary major.”

Watson said it was because of students like Payne, who were interested in the field, that the major came to be approved.

“The pioneering of the students on campus right now, that have kind of cobbled together a major in graphic design, really kick-started the effort,” Watson said.

Since her first internship, Payne has used her skills in many other jobs and even created the logo the Baldwin Diner uses on its menus. Payne believes having graphic design skills will help her find a job after graduation because of the increasing demand for graphics in a number of industries.

Watson agreed, saying the goal is always to stay ahead of the curve and help students change as the industry will demand them to change.

“People have always looked at media as the radio, television and newspaper people, but I don’t think they give us credit for the versatility that our degree offers,” Watson said. “So, we’re very excited and think this has a lot of potential. Baker has talked a lot about growth areas, and I think this has the potential to be one of those areas, so it’s exciting to see where it will go.”

*This story has been changed from its original version to clarify some of the required classes.<em>This story has been changed from its original version to clarify some of the required classes.</em>This story has been changed from its original version to clarify some of the required classes.