New York City College of Technology (City Tech): A Resource of Talent for the Graphic Communication Industry
I am privileged to write this article because City Tech, when it was New York City Community College (NYCCC), launched my career to heights that I never thought possible at the time.
Little known to most, the New York City College of Technology, part of the City University of New York (CUNY), has one of the oldest, and finest, graphic arts programs in the nation serving the printing, publishing, advertising, design, and related fields. The program started out being called Graphic Arts and Advertising Technology, and today is called the “Emmy-Award winning” Communication Design program. But don’t let the title fool you. The skills being taught are some of the most relevant required in today’s modern graphic communication fields.
A few words about me, because it is relevant to this article. I graduated from NYCCC with an Associates Degree in 1965, after studying with uniquely experienced faculty and in highly relevant labs. So enthusiastic was I with my NYCCC education, that I took classes five nights a week and on Saturdays, while working full-time during the day. When continuing my education for a Bachelors Degree at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), every one of my NYCCC courses was considered relevant and transferable.
Fast-forward to May 2004, when I was brought back by then City Tech Graphic Arts program Chair, Professor Lloyd Carr, as an “honored alum” to receive the college’s national graphic arts professional fraternity Gamma Epsilon Tau Golden Key Award. During that visit, I had the opportunity to visit classes, and to meet and speak with students. It took me back to the 1960s when I observed the same motivation and enthusiasm for the program among the students and faculty that I experienced nearly 40 years earlier. The faculty was experienced, with many coming from the highly competitive and demanding New York City printing, publishing, advertising, and design industries.
Now, fast-forward to 2020. Today, housed in the School of Technology and Design, the ever-evolving Communication Design program remains a model of what it takes to prepare students for the modern graphic communication industry. The course topics read as a “what do I have to know to succeed” list for this industry. Examples include: communication design, mobile devices, desktop publication, digital media foundations, graphic design, interactive animation, video, motion graphics, multimedia, packaging, photography, print production, printmaking, publication design, raster and vector graphics, streaming media for the web, time-based typography, type and media, typographic design, vector art, web design, and web traffic and analytics.
The students are also provided with the opportunity for internships in the New York City metropolitan area printing, publishing, advertising, and design companies.
Professor Thaddeus B. Kubis — A Model of Faculty Commitment to Students
My point person for researching this article was professor Thaddeus B. Kubis. Thad is a professional and passionately driven educator whose career includes, hands-on experience in advertising agencies, the creative community, print production, and the ever-changing world of new and emerging media.
A successful author, Thad developed The Guide to Integrated Marketing and Media Convergence for print providers. For more than 20 years as an Adjunct Professor at the New York City College of Technology and the Fashion Institute of Technology, he has been an active contributor to City Tech and supporter of the Communications Design BFA program. Thad’s link to the graphic arts industry started when his agency, NAK Integrated Marketing, signed Heidelberg USA as a client. That started a 20-year-plus, association with some of the industry’s largest names, including MAN Roland (today named Manroland), Harris, Mueller Martini, Kodak, as well as Heidelberg USA, and many others. Thad has taught print production, binding and finishing, digital media, and production for designers, and is an online instructor in all aspects of photography. He is also the founder of The Birch Mountain Integrated Marketing Group and The Berkshire Storytellers Project that assists companies with “targeted marketing” (marketingisaprofitcenter.com). Thad represents the continuum of experienced and enthusiastic professors that I experienced in the 1960s and observed again in 2004; an accolade to City Tech for having students educated by the best and the brightest — a faculty committed to student success.
The undergirding of Thad Kubis’s teaching is a philosophy focused on “integration” of individual processes into an expected end result. Kubis said:
I believe in teaching graphic communication as a process; a series of interconnected, integrated procedures that offer a highly researched and developed end result. Teaching students the importance of workflow and making good decisions are highly relevant to my teaching strategy for integrating design to print production and to digital-based multimedia.
Thad is also addressing the current requirement for online teaching during the COVID-19 crisis. Similar to nearly all schools in the nation, City Tech has moved to online teaching for now. Thad converted this situation to a positive and said:
Overall, despite current conditions, the industry had been moving to an independent based production workflow. I think the current COVID-19 crisis has accelerated this move, and the students I teach have adapted to distant learning, which will soon become ‘distant working’. I feel that our students will then be ready to adapt to such a work environment and, hence, be desirable to employers.
Adopts Interactive Book to Support Online Teaching and Learning
To support online teaching, Thad has been using the only interactive book in the graphic arts driven by Ricoh’s free Clickable Paper app, Introduction to Graphic Communication (igcbook.com). This PRINTED, ink-on-paper, book provides access to videos of technology at work, lectures by prominent industry experts, chat rooms, websites, and interaction between and among students and faculty. Students can even communicate with the book’s authors — all from a printed book interfaced with a smartphone or tablet having the Ricoh Clickable Paper app. Kubis explained:
In a world where everything is interconnected, integrated, interactive, such a foundational book as part of my teaching array, makes more than sense to me. The visual elements of the online offering are powerful tools to use when leading online instruction. I have recommended that the book be made the required text. Of the three books that I use to develop, update, and instruct, Introduction to Graphic Communication has become the lead book; my key source for teaching online or in the classroom. I am considering developing a Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram portal of knowledge that will integrate the teaching and production value of the book.
Professor Kubis represents the City Tech faculty experience and enthusiasm that I observed in the 1960s, in 2004, and now again in 2020 — an impressive continuum!
City Tech’s Diversity — The Envy of Colleges and Universities Across the Nation
City Tech is one of the most racially diverse colleges in the nation. It is a model for other schools striving to enhance diversity that better reflects our nation while addressing the shortage of educated and skilled employees, a situation likely to continue well into the future. The graphic communication industry is not immune to this, and City Tech’s Communication Design program is doing its part to prepare future employees of diverse cultural and racial backgrounds. City Tech has slightly over 17,000 students of which 29% are African American, 34% are Hispanic, and 20% are Asian; an enviable mix when many public colleges and universities are under pressure to diversify — to “look” like the communities that they represent. City Tech “looks” like the greater New York City metropolitan area from which approximately 90% of its students come. The gender split is equally impressive with 55% being men and 45% being women.
The graphic communication industry demands an educated, action-based, trained employee pool that can seamlessly be integrated into the fields of printing, publishing, advertising, design, packaging and related areas. City Tech’s Communication Design program is preparing such future employees. According to professor Kubis, City Tech’s Communication Design program is more than needed, it is demanded.
Dr. Harvey R. Levenson is Professor Emeritus and former Department Head of Graphic Communication at Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif. His research and teaching specialties are communication, intellectual property, media, printing, and technology. He is often called upon as an Expert Witness in these areas. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org