Cal Poly’s ‘Digital Guru,’ Professor Mike Blum, Retires

Retired Cal Poly Graphic Communication Professor Mike Blum and students work on one of the Apple computers that was donated to the department thanks to Blum’s efforts.

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA—June 14, 2011—Mike Blum, professor and architect of the Cal Poly Graphic Communication Department’s digital infrastructure and electronic publishing laboratories, has retired after 27 years of service.

Blum brought the Graphic Communication Department into the digital age immediately upon his arrival, according to Department Head Harvey Levenson. “One day shortly after Mike’s arrival, 25 Apple Macintosh Plus computers and accompanying LaserWriters of the desktop publishing revolution were delivered—all donated through Mike’s efforts,” Levenson said. “Since then he has orchestrated the acquisition of every successive generation of Apple computers. We now have 60 workstations.”

Blum also obtained donations of the industry-leading software packages and the high-end input and output devices connected to them. One of the first full-color digital prints in the world to be output from an Adobe PostScript program written on an Apple computer resulted from a senior project supervised by Blum.

Over the years, Blum developed and coordinated the program’s concentrations in computers and printing technology, electronic publishing and imaging, and web and digital media. He introduced the graphic communication minor and developed a general education course on web and print publishing. Blum designed the department’s digital printing labs and helped acquire systems from HP, Epson, Xerox and others. He led the department’s entry into digital photography, database systems, variable data printing, web publishing and digital media.

Blum is responsible for the design, layout and high-speed networking of all of the laboratories and administrative offices. As chairman of the department’s Recruitment Committee, he helped recruit some of the most qualified faculty and staff in graphic communication education.

“Mike’s contribution to graphic communication education and industry has been monumental, and he will be terribly missed. You don’t replace a Mike Blum,” Levenson said.

Blum said, “The Graphic Communication Department has been a great place to spend the last three decades. The program has remained on the cutting edge of our industry, consistently attracting top-notch students.”

To continue Blum’s legacy, the Mike Blum Graphic Communication Endowment has been established to support an annual scholarship to advance faculty and staff development and to support laboratory development. Contributions can be made to the Mike Blum Graphic Communication Endowment, Graphic Communication Department, Cal Poly, 1 Grand Avenue, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407.

About Cal Poly’s Graphic Communication Department
The department ( was founded in 1946 and is one of the nation’s largest and best-known programs of its kind. It includes concentrations in graphic communication management, web and digital media, design reproduction technology, graphics for packaging, and individualized study. The program is strongly supported by industry with grants and endowments and with equipment, supplies and software for the department’s more than 33,000 square feet of modern laboratories. The Graphic Communication Institute at Cal Poly ( focuses on services for industry, including research, testing, product evaluations, consulting, training, seminars, workshops, conferences and publishing. The department is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Collegiate Graphic Communications.