Education Awards: An In-depth Interview with One Outstanding Educator
If you think outstanding teachers deserve education awards, this story is for you. When Ben Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn,” he may well have been talking about Professor Dan Wilson, D.I.T., of Illinois State University. Dan is the Academic winner of the 2014 Education Awards of Excellence given to an individual who has pioneered a distinguished education service, program, project, or other accomplishment in graphic communications.
Nominated for this renowned award by peers as well as students, Dan has impacted many lives. His dedicated work, both in and out of the classroom, has no doubt contributed to more students getting involved in the industry.
We caught up with Dan to talk about his exciting career and how he’s paving the way for tomorrow’s graphic arts professionals.
- Why did you decide to become a graphic arts educator? I started out working in production running a lithographic press to help with college costs. Both of my parents were teachers, so when an opportunity came along to earn a graduate degree and teach a graphic arts class as a graduate assistantship, I jumped on it. Many people who have played a role in my development as an educator, but none more so than my early mentors, Dr. Ronald Glogovsky and Dr. Ervin A. Dennis. I worked for both of these gentleman as a graduate assistant, and they opened the door for me to move forward in my career as an educator.
- What has been the most fulfilling part of your job? A functioning graphic communications program is a complex thing and requires a dedicated, hard-working team. I am deeply appreciative for the many great educators that I’ve had the honor of teaming with over the years. My many current students and alumni of Illinois State University and the other colleges I have worked for—their development and successes in our great industry is what my career gratification is really all about.
- Tell us about the organizations you are involved in outside of the classroom. Right now I chair the accreditation committee for the Accrediting Council for Collegiate Graphic Communications (ACCGC). We accredit community college and university-level graphic communications degree programs across the nation. As accreditation chair, I am responsible for assembling the audit teams, coordinating reports, and assuring that our standards for accreditation are up to date. I’m also chair of the Great Lakes Graphics Association Education (GLGA) Task Force. Our main work focus has been getting a new scholarship program off the ground. The Illinois Graphic Communications Scholarship Program (IGCSP) is in its second year and providing funds to over a dozen print-oriented graphic communications students.
- You’ve written several industry training publications, including The New PrintScape: A Crash Course in Graphic Communications 3rd Edition. Do you plan to author any more books? I had also authored the PIApress Bindery Training Curriculum, which is now more than 12 years old. There has been some talk of updating and converting that training program into an online learning format. That will likely be my next project.
- One of your students who nominated you for this award said, “The two most important traits that Dr. Wilson possesses are his passion for the graphics industry and his dedication to his students. Nobody ever fell asleep in his class. He was able to relate everything we learned to real-life scenarios.” How do you feel you are impacting the graphic communication professionals of tomorrow? Recruitment of new people to make our industry a career has been an ongoing challenge. There has been a decline in print-oriented graphic communications programs at the high school and community college levels. This reduces the number of feeder schools to our university program. A student has to get “turned-on” to the industry somewhere and by somebody. Our program has a healthy enrollment. We maintain that through keeping the curriculum cutting edge with courses on cross-media technology, e-Publishing, Web development, package production, and 3D printing. Many of these topics attract new students who can see themselves having a career in our exciting industry, and we are able to admit many “internal transfers” (students already enrolled at ISU but looking for a new major).
Who would you nominate for an Education Award of Excellence? Nominations for the 2015 Education Awards of Excellence are now being accepted. The deadline is October 9, 2015. Click HERE to learn more and download the nomination form.
Learn more about our 2014 Academic recipient Dan Wilson, D.I.T., Professor, Illinois State University, and Industry recipient Kip Jarrett, Service Representative, Heidelberg USA here.