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Binghamton University opens graphic design lab

Concentration sees growth, greater recognition

After spending years in the basement of Science III, the graphic design department has joined the rest of the art department in the Fine Arts Building.

Students use the iMacs in the new graphic design studio in Fine Arts Building. Two new design labs and a new office space were added to service students studying graphic design.

The building is now home to two new design labs, as well as an office space for meetings on the third floor.

Each design lab comes stocked with 20 brand-new Apple iMac computers and updated design software.

According to Loring Bixler, a retired adjunct professor of graphic design who planned the new lab, the graphic design department has needed more space for its students for years.

“We saw a great growth in students enrolling in graphic design classes. This in turn presented a logistics problem: more students than available classroom space,” Bixler explained. “The pod in Science III was not appropriate for the classes.”

Plans had been in the works for several years, and renovations began in the spring of 2013.

The lab was designed by Monika Furch from the Physical Facilities department.

In addition to the new graphic design lab, the Fine Arts Building also recently received a new computer pod in room 327 and a new photography lab in room 310. Cindy Blackman, an adjunct professor of graphic design, said she was impressed by the new facilities but hopes to see more changes done in the department, including the return of the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree for art students. Students graduating from the graphic design program instead receive a degree in studio art with a graphic design concentration.

“We need to get an actual tenured faculty for graphic design, and we need more classes,” Blackman said.

Erica Buki, a senior majoring in studio art, said she also hopes that the B.F.A. program will be reinstated and that it would give art students at BU a more competitive edge.

“It has always been a concern of mine that the program was dissolved a number of years ago due to the school’s inability to hire more professors,” Buki said. “[The B.F.A] is a higher degree so it would help job seeking students.”

Alexander Angstrom, a member of President Harvey Stenger’s Road Map team and senior triple-majoring in marketing, leadership and consulting and studio art, said that the new design lab is a part of the fifth and final Road Map Strategic Priorities to optimize the acquisition and allocation of human, technological, financial and physical resources.

“The Road Map provides such a beautiful vision for improvements in all areas of student life, and the new design lab is just one example of how students are already benefiting on a concrete, academic, day-to-day level,” Angstrom said.

Like Blackman, Angstrom also hopes to see more classes through collaboration with other departments.

“What if an advertising class teamed up with a design class to produce a real ad campaign for a local business? That would be a home run opportunity for the department,” Angstrom said.

Samantha Ahern, a transfer from Marymount Manhattan College, said she believes the new lab will raise awareness of the art programs at BU.

“This is what I would expect from an art school. It just shows other students who don’t know anything about it that we are a serious major and the University does recognize us,” said Ahern, a senior majoring in studio art. “It’d be cool if people came to Binghamton and not just thought of SOM or Watson.”

Ahern also said that she hopes to see the lab make it so that more people come to Binghamton University for graphic design.

“The new lab makes us feel like we’re not a joke major,” she said. “It makes us feel special and important.”