Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business

Graphic communications pros hone their skills at Clemson


While many members of the university community were vacationing this summer, educators from throughout North America converged on the Clemson campus to share ideas and sharpen their skills, all aimed at developing the next generation of graphic communications professionals.

Graphic communications conference classroom
Graphic communications educators met at Clemson this summer to hone their teaching skills.

The Graphic Communications Education Association (GCEA) chose Clemson University, which houses one of the country’s top graphic communications programs, to host its 96th annual conference July 28-Aug. 1. More than 90 high school, technical college and university educators joined industry professionals for five days of learning, collaboration and fellowship.

“We had educator and industry professionals who shared best practices and presented emerging technologies,” said Erica Walker, assistant professor of graphic communications at Clemson, who along with colleague Charles Weiss, associate professor, co-hosted the conference. “It was a week of collaborative learning by educational peers who will be able to apply what they learned in their classrooms this fall.”

GCEA is graphic communications’ top professional educational organization that partners with industry members to share theories, principles and practices geared toward enhancing the education of tomorrow’s practitioners.

“The organization is a close-knit community of people spanning several generations that is dedicated to furthering our profession,” Walker said. “Industry trends, collaborative teaching, and how educators can develop creative and critical thinkers were just a few of the topics that were discussed.”

Clemson students, faculty and staff played active roles assisting with the annual conference, the third time Clemson has hosted it in nearly a century.

“A digital media design class taught by Jeff Kallin came up with the theme (“Create an Uproar”) and the name (Camp Clemson) for this year’s event,” Walker said. “Our students created pitches and developed visual designs to market the event, so it was produced organically as a hands-on learning project.”

Also lending a hand in the event were Chip Tonkin, Department of Graphic Communications chair, and new faculty member Carl Blue.

In addition to the presentations and hands-on labs, attendees were exposed to many of Clemson’s educational assets, including a virtual reality press developed by Sonoco Institute, the Adobe Digital Studio in Cooper Library, the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics, and The Watt Family Innovation Center.

As one of the country’s pre-eminent programs, Clemson’s graphic communications majors have 95 percent job placement within six months of graduation. That placement rate speaks to Clemson’s stature in the graphic communications industry and may be a reason why this College of Business discipline is growing.

“The conference was an opportunity to showcase all that Clemson has to offer,” Walker said. “Through continuing education and collaboration by industry and educators, we are enabling students to enter into well-paying careers in print and visual communications. Graphic communications mixes technology and creativity, which creates very diverse career opportunities.”

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