University News

University’s Graphic Design Program Ranked Among Best in Connecticut

Animation Career Review has rated the University of New Haven’s graphic design program the second best in the state, praising the opportunities students have to network, build a professional identity, and gain hands-on experience.

October 6, 2020

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

University's graphic design students
The University’s graphic design program has been ranked the second best in Connecticut

When Carley Grife ’19 was a graphic design major at the University of New Haven, she served as a campus tour guide, welcoming prospective students and their families to the University. Early in her senior year she was meeting with a group of first-year graphic design students when one of them recognized her as their tour guide. She enjoyed opportunities and experiences like that that enabled her to make a meaningful impact on other students.

Image of Varley Grife '19.
Carley Grife’s thesis, titled "Locorum," was a fully functional app prototype.

An active member of the University community, Grife took advantage of every chance she had to connect with her classmates and faculty members, and to learn as much as she could from them. She found serving as a teaching assistant for a junior-level class when she was a senior to be an especially wonderful learning experience.

“It was so helpful for me to learn about lesson planning, as well as how to cater information and advice to different students and learning methods,” said Grife, who is now a graphic designer for Digital Agency outside of Philadelphia. “These are all skills I implement now in my career, and I will be forever grateful for the time I spent at the University.”

Thanks in large part to the experiences and success of Grife and her classmates, the University’s graphic design program has now been recognized by Animation Career Review, which provides information on schools in every state that offer animation, design, and gaming programs. The University’s graphic design program was ranked second in the state of Connecticut. Considering criteria such as depth and breadth of the program and academic reputation, the organization considered more than 700 schools across the country for its latest ranking.

“This reinforces us of the steady and important work we've been doing,” said Guy-Serge Emmanuel, MFA, an assistant professor and coordinator of the graphic design program. “The past five years have seen a complete transformation in our program, as we’ve made it more dynamic and market responsive. Techniques and tools change year to year, and our students must have the critical ability to respond to such changes.”

‘Designers are problem solvers’

The organization lauded the networking opportunities students have with professionals, the many arts-based clubs and organizations on campus, and rich learning experiences through visiting designers, lecturers, and events in the community.

Image of Georgette Michael-Duncan ’21
Georgette Michael-Duncan during a critique in a typography course.

For the past two years, students’ typography work has been featured as part of the permanent collection at the Beinecke Rare Book Library, a library and literary archive of the Yale University Library. Students have worked with local nonprofit organizations, such as New Haven Farms and MakeHaven, gaining experience while assisting them with their design needs.

“The versatility makes the program stand out,” said Javier Viramontes, a lecturer. “Designers are problem solvers. Design is complex and needs a multifaced approach. Our different course offerings, amazing repertoire of guests, and participation in the nonprofit sector certainly open our students to many meaningful career opportunities.”

Students also take part in interdisciplinary work, working with faculty in other colleges and schools at the University. Students in motion graphics and information design courses have collaborated with marine biology faculty to create animation and posters highlighting their research on the impact of climate change on fishing conditions in Puerto Rico. Motion graphics students have also worked with forensic science faculty to create animation to raise awareness of human trafficking.

Animation Career Review notes that graduates of the program will be prepared to pursue a variety of careers, including multimedia artist, product designer, and marketing manager.

'As students, we had real-world design opportunities'
Jordan Campbell
Jordan Campbell '18 presents his motion design reel at the University of New Haven’s Seton Gallery.

Animation Career Review notes that graduates of the program will be prepared to pursue a variety of careers, including multimedia artist, product designer, and marketing manager.

Among the successful graduates is Jordan Campbell ’18, who says he was drawn to the University by the knowledgeable faculty who demonstrated a commitment to students through events such as open houses on campus and studio sessions for high school students.

Now a UI/UX designer at VisionX, Campbell leads the design of products and serves as a consultant for Fortune 500 clients. He also does freelance work. He’s grateful for the experiences he had as a student at the University, particularly the guidance and support of his faculty mentors.

"As students, we had real-world design opportunities such as producing posters for nonprofits, rebranding companies, and completing life-changing internships,” said Campbell, who is also co-president of AIGA Connecticut, a professional association for designers that supports a network of creative changemakers, problem solvers, and professional leaders. “Guy-Serge Emmanuel specifically encouraged me to apply for an internship where I got to work with big-name clients I otherwise would’ve only dreamed of. This advanced my design career beyond my years.”

'I was set up for success on day one'

Georgette Michael-Duncan ’21 switched her major to graphic design after taking a drawing course taught by Jacquelyn Gleisner, M.F.A., and she says she’s grateful for the opportunities she’s had.

Image of Georgette Michael-Duncan ’21
Georgette Michael-Duncan at the Seton Gallery show opening on campus last year.

“The graphic design program offers students unique opportunities that allow us to be exposed to the art world earlier,” she said. “Studying abroad at the University’s campus in Tuscany, Italy, was by far the best experience I had. It really pushed me out of my comfort zone and changed the way I think about my work.”

Praising the program for enabling students to create and polish their portfolios, Animation Career Review also commended the opportunities students have to build a professional identity. Grife, the 2019 graduate, says she had the support she needed from everyone in the program, which she describes as a “tight-knit community.”

“Not only do the professors and staff help us in our journeys as students, they also help us grow professionally,” she continued. “I was set up for success on day one, surrounded by classmates and staff who were ready to help me problem solve, push boundaries, and think outside the box.”