Graphic Communications Management Degree at Appalachian State University: Career Opportunities in the World of Digital Media

Sign in Harper Hall

GCM student Jazlyn Montague designed a new sign displayed at Katherine Harper Hall

The Thomas W. Reese Graphic Arts and Imaging Technology Program (GAIT) at Appalachian State University became the Thomas W. Reese Graphic Communications Management (GCM) degree program beginning in the Fall 2019 semester. The title change is consistent with university degree program titles nationally and internationally. Recommendations from Dr. Malcolm Keif of California Poly Technical Institute and Dr. Dan Wilson of Illinois State University, visiting faculty from two peer institutions following their program review of the existing Graphic Arts and Imaging Technology Program, included changing the program title as well as revamping the existing curriculum to reflect digital technology of the graphic communications industry.

Additional recommendations from the program review include the course prefix and titles. GCM 1022 Digital Media Composition I (formerly GRA 1022 Electronic Document Design I) is a study of page layout techniques using Adobe InDesign. Students enrolled in this course learn to create production jobs based on specifications similar to industry production scenarios.

The program is housed in Katherine Harper Hall, named for a major contributor to stimulate the teaching of flexographic printing technology. Ron and Katherine Harper made significant donations that provided flexographic printing press and supporting technology as well as scholarships to encourage students to pursue a career in flexographic printing. Recently, the program received recognition for winning the Phoenix Challenge, a collegiate competition involving Cal Poly, Clemson, Wisconsin-Stout, Millersville, and other universities from North America.

The GAIT Program also benefited from donation agreements by Thomas W. Reese, former owner of the Hickory Printing Group; John Gordon, former of Winston Packaging, and many others. Their gifts to the Graphic Arts and Imaging Technology Program provided equipment, software, materials, training, internships, and scholarships to prepare students and faculty for a competitive and rapidly changing industry.

The GCM Program began as an Industrial Arts concentration in Graphic Arts in 1967 under the direction and leadership of Dr. Robert A. Banzhaf. Recognizing the growing need to provide graduates for jobs in the printing industry, he changed the status of the Graphic Arts concentration to the Print Production Management (PPM) degree program. Based on recommendations from the PPM Advisory Board in 1990, the program name was changed to Thomas W. Reese Graphic Arts and Imaging Technology.

Dr. George Glisan, is presently serving as Distinguished Professor and Program Coordinator. The faculty includes Dr. John R. Craft, Dr. Kevin R. Howell, Dr. Mandy Wu, Mr. Thomas Reeves, and Ms. Kay Bishop. Additionally, Mr. Charles Perkins, Mr. Chris Earp, and Ms. Rachel Bond serve as Mountaineer Printing staff, providing print services for Appalachian State University.

The GCM Program offers degree concentrations in Cross Media Production and Packaging. The program is also supported by grants obtained from the International Corrugated Packaging Foundation, Printing Industry of the Carolinas, and the Electronic Document Systems Foundation.

Dr. John Craft