A TIMELINE FOR THE VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS GROUP, University of Delaware
I (Ray Nichols) got to thinking about some kind of timeline of milestones for the program. Look it over. If you can add something of importance I would love an email. Include any instances when any former student got a major award or other milestone for their creative work. Also, would like to list any major inclusions in any published articles or books as either a creator, writer, or where the article talks about your creative work.
. . . 1 9 6 5
Charles Rowe hired (1965). Charles started the program which I believe was referred to as "applied design" in the beginning.
. . . 1 9 6 6
Originally, the department was "Art & Art History." It split into separate departments in 1966.
. . . 1 9 6 8
The program took on the name of "Graphic & Advertising Design."
The first graduate from the program was in 1968 and there was only one. I believe the next graduates weren’t until 1973, although I have a vague notion that I’ve seen graduates from 1972.
At least at this time, the degree offered was the Bachelor of Science degree. Because it was considered a professional degree (like the BFA is today) there was a lot of flexibility to the curriculum and you could offer a much larger number of course than the standard Bachelor of Arts degree that was offered by Fine Arts.
. . . 1 9 7 0
Woody Ritter hired (1970 - 1978), graphic design.
. . . 1 9 7 4
I'm not sure where it was housed prior to 1974 but in 1974 it was housed in Recitation Annex (and had been for at least a couple of years), the small building to the left of Recitation Hall.
The basement at least by the late 1970s housed the "stat" camera along with photo darkroom equipment. A variety of photographic materials were supplied by DuPont, including sheets of 30" x 40" lithography negative (lithneg) film and Chromalin materials.
Ray Nichols hired (1974 - 2006), advertising design came in September 1974.
The program, called "Graphic & Advertising Design" offered the BS (Bachelor of Science) degree, which was the professional degree versus the BA. Students only took G&AD courses during their Junior and Senior years. The BFA was not part of the program at all. I taught 3 classes each semester in ‘74 (4 of them were foundation design and 2 were in the program). The classes I taught as I remember were illustration and typography (which was half typography and half calligraphy). I might have taught a graphic design-related class.
Woody Ritter was operating a year-end "Breakfast" at the point in time I came. He hired the school chef at Widner University (I think) who came over and on the first morning of the exhibition made omelets for professional Wilmington designers who came down to see the show. He could make 2 omelets, made to order, a minute. I wish I remembered his name. He had a chef's hat and a nice setup. I’ve got a photo that I can post sometime.
In those early years the SENIOR show was actually held in December. I’m not sure at what point we started doing it at the end of the school year.
. . . 1 9 7 5
My second year I taught 1 basic design course and 2 courses G&AD. Of course, I was starting to have dreams of what the program could be like. So one of the things I pushed for immediately was to start including the sophomore year into the program, Strange that as of 2017 it was back to where students only took the VC classes junior and senior, I think.
I applied for a Unidel Grant for about $75,000 which got us all new metal desks and filing drawers for each along with the Stat Camera which was housed in the basement. Honestly, we were on the cutting edge of technology at the time with our connections to DuPont.
. . . 1 9 7 6
So starting in 1976 the program went to a 3-year program. From that point on I taught full time in G&AD. This splintered the junior class in '76 as some moved into the 3-year program (probably costing them an extra year in college) while others stayed with the 2-year program to graduate in the standard 4 years.
The first PLATO computers were included in our courses. The university asked for proposals as to what you would use the for. My proposal simply stated, "I'm going to use them for things I cannot even imagine at this time." I had my pick of the best programmers. The names of a few programmers I can remember were Charlie Wickham, Ben Williams and Jim Trueblood. They were all amazing.
I was one of about 6 university faculty who were granted access to PLATO. My proposal which was to answer the question, “What will you do with PLATO?” My answer was something like, “I have no idea, but it will help me do things that right now I’m not even considering.” I believe I received the most support that was offered, along with my choice of programmers after Fred Hofstetter who was the director of the project.
PLATO’s "Optical Letterspacing" and "Logo Design" were two major programs I developed here. I think the students hated the optical letterspacing, but it had a strong impact on their "attention to detail" which spilled over into lots of other areas. Print Magazine did a major article on Optical Letterspacing. I had a rather constant flow of design faculty who traveled from as far as Finland to see what we were up to.
. . . 1 9 7 9
Terry Casey hired (1979 - 1980)
"Don't let another art director beat you to the punch" poster for 1979 year-end show got into the Art Directors Club of New York competition. The poster was hung on the same wall as the Barbecue Picnic Poster from Herman Miller, starting a connection between the program (and Ray) to Stephen Frykholm, the designer of the picnic poster, that carried all the way into 2018.
. . . 1 9 8 0
Employment goals switched from getting jobs in Wilmington / Philadelphia to New York with the class of 1980.
"The cut" was instituted to limit enrollment in the program to a maximum of 17 - 20 graduating seniors. The class of '80 had 26 graduating seniors and we were buried in students in the lower classes. We were expecting interest in the program to get greater. The workload and creative expectations of the faculty increased significantly. To help justify the intensity within the program we intensified opportunities outside the classroom.
We started the practice of taking 2 field trips to New York each semester and participating in the Art Directors Club of New York portfolio review (first year was with the class of 1980). Brad Tillinghast's interest in working as an art director in advertising had a major impact on my starting to "push" students toward New York careers. Around the time Brad told me about his New York interest I noticed in the back of one of the Art Directors Club of New York annuals that they had a page showing the portfolio reviews. One phone call got us involved and we were seriously off and running.
At the ADCNY portfolio reviews, we started crossing paths with a bunch of important art directors, with the important one being Lee Epstein. Lee taught at Pratt and had worked at Doyle Dane Bernbach with all of the biggies from back in the 1960s. Both of those places where high on my list of things to aspire to. Doing the portfolio reviews was a major turning point in the life and expectations of VC and therefore, the students who went through the program.
Print Magazine publishes a major article on Ray's work with Plato and the Optical Letterspacing software.
Bill Deering hired (1980 - 1986), applied photography
Jim Storey hired (1980 - 1981), graphic design
. . . 1 9 8 1
Martha Carothers hired (1981 - present), graphic design
The portfolio review for entry into the program started in 1981 and first impacted the graduating class of 1983.
. . . 1 9 8 2
Name of the program changed to Visual Communications.
The 8 foot x 4.5” silkscreened year-end show poster, "The whole world is talking," was included in the One Club's annual competition. That poster was also included in the CASE (Council for Advancement & Support of Education) competition. Was also voted as "Best of the Decade" 1975 - 1985.
. . . 1 9 8 3
Interest in the program exploded with "the cut" significantly reducing non-majors in our courses, along with students that were "kind of" interested. The call to action became "get on or get off."
. . . 1 9 8 4
The introduction of the Macintosh with its "1984" commercial on the Superbowl. Ray received a grant that got us either 2 or 4 of the first Macintosh Computers.
. . . 1 9 8 5
Program name changed to "Visual Communications" around 1985?
Around 1985 we began offering a concentration in Applied Photography
. . . 1 9 8 6
Peter Croydon hired (1986 - 1995), applied photography
. . . 1 9 8 7
(not sure of date) - Kirk Souder (VC'85) with his writing partner, Court Crandall won the Grand Clio for the best commercial of the year for Pioneer stereos for the ad "Sorry." Agency was BBDO / West, Los Angeles.
. . . 1 9 8 8
MacLab instituted as part of the Visual Communications program.
Fine Arts changed their major from the BA to the BFA. The BS still offered our program more flexibility so we stuck with it for several more years.
Steve Boyd (VC’88) professed his interest in design openings and closings for Olympic events. Ray Nichols probably said something like, “Yeah, sure.” He has currently contributed to 13 consecutive Summer and Winter Olympics games spanning Barcelona ’92 to Rio 2016. What the hell do teachers know anyway?
. . . 1 9 8 9
The University of Delaware Magazine (with then-Senator Joe Biden on the cover) did a major article on Visual Communications stating, "Delaware's Visual Communications program is turning out top young talent in advertising, photography, and design."
Graphis Magazine 263, September October 1989, had as its cover, an ad for Steuben Glass. The art director was Ann Lemon (VC’84) and the photographer was Craig Cutler (VC’83)
Sometime around this time, we started a student exchange with Wolverhampton University in the U.K. I think it lasted about 4 years. More students wanted to come here than wanted to go there which eventually killed the project. Wolverhampton was a bit too far from London for our students.
Rose DiSanto started her volunteer work with the "Hole in the Wall Gang Camp," Paul Newman's effort for children with blood disorders. She has done it every year but its first one until the present.
. . . 1 9 9 0
Beginning of the VC Macintosh lab 1992? One of Ray's favorite classes, Video Editing, came into existence during many Wintersessions over the next couple of decades,
. . . 1 9 9 1
Advertising Club of Delaware Gold (6) and Silver (6) awards listing graduates. Gold: Raymond Nichols, Martha Carothers, Hendrik-Jan Francke, VC junior class, Ed Abbott, Robert Kuzepski, Sean McCormick, & Ann Lemon. Silver: Raymond Nichols, Martha Carothers, Hendrik-Jan Francke, Marco Kaye, Tom Newsom, Min Chung, Serrin Bodmer, Mike Sullivan, Jen Denis, Mary Allen, Leslie Kedash, Lori Gray, & Kelly Carter
. . . 1 9 9 2
Martha Carothers becomes as chair of the Department of Art & Visual Communications (1992 - 2001)
. . . 1 9 9 3
Delaware Today magazine had the cover story "How Good is U of D?" In a callout entitled "Highest rated" they said,
"Although not well-known outside designer circles, UD's Visual Communications (commercial art) program is considered by 'those who need to know' one of the best in the country. Graduates win awards and land jobs with big-name advertising agencies in New York City.”
Brad Tillinghast (VC'80) was awarded the University of Delaware Presidential Citation for Outstanding Achievement. This was the first of 7 of our graduates that ended up winning the award over the next decade.
. . . 1 9 9 4
Advertising Design seniors want to do a cool portfolio review so 8 of us get in a van and drive to Fallon McElligott in Minneapolis. We leave on a Friday and return on Monday night. 24 hours each way.
Degree offered in Visual Communications changes to the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree.
Paul Miles hired (1994 - 1995), graphic design.
Kirk Souder (VC'84) co-founds Ground Zero, a highly creative, award-winning agency in Los Angeles, CA.
From 1994 -1996 (not sure of the dates) Visual Communications is housed in the small brick houses at the beginning of Delaware Avenue while Recitation Hall and Recitation Annex are renovated.
. . . 1 9 9 5
Bill Deering rehired (1995 - present), applied photography, advertising design
In 1996 Visual Communications moves to the newly renovated Recitation Hall.
Around 1998 we merged with Illustration and began the concentration in Illustration as part of Visual Communications.
Kirk Souder (VC'85) was awarded the University of Delaware Presidential Citation for Outstanding Achievement.
. . . 1 9 9 6
Charles Rowe, agrees to give up his roll in illustration to move to painting. A part of that agreement, Illustration is merged into Visual Communications and a new faculty position is approved.
Robyn Phillips-Pendleton hired (1996 - present), illustration)
Visual Communications relocates to the newly renovated Recitation Hall with proper workspaces, critique rooms, a departmental gallery, lecture hall, and Macintosh Site.
Libby Brockhoff (VC'92) was one of 4 founding partners of Mother, an innovative and highly creative advertising agency in London. Libby was responsible for the name. The New York office followed in 2003. Mother has pioneered a creative culture where all employees work directly with clients, including the creative teams. Her now husband Franklin Tipton (VC'91) was Mother's first hire. In 2014 they form "Odysseus Arms," a highly awarded advertising agency in San Francisco.
. . . 1 9 9 8
Hendrik-Jan Francke hired (1998 - 2006), graphic design.
Bill Oberlander (VC'81) becomes president of the Art Directors Club of New York (1998 - 2001).
Visual Communications started hosting the "Black Maria Film Festival." Also did a couple nice letterpress posters to promote the occasion.
. . .1 9 9 9
Bill Oberlander (VC'81) was awarded the University of Delaware Presidential Citation for Outstanding Achievement.
Craig Cutler photographed a Gutenberg Bible for the millennium issue of Life Magazine celebrating the 100 most important of the last 1000 years. The Gutenberg Bible was moment #1.
. . . 2 0 0 0
Around 2000 Visual Communications began a concentration in Interactive Media.
Around 2000 the advertising design program was first included in the One Club student exhibition honoring the top 20 advertising design programs in the U.S. putting us on the map with every program that mattered to us.
Established VCUK study abroad to London in 2001. During the summer of 2000, Ray Nichols, Bill Deering and Jill Cypher make an exploratory trip to London to see if we bring students, will various places talk with us. Vince Frost, The Partners, the V&A Museum, Pentagram, and Michael Johnson all categorically agree that, "If you come, you can visit."
Mylene Turek Pollock (VC'83) was awarded the University of Delaware Presidential Citation for Outstanding Achievement.
. . . 2 0 0 1
VCUK'01 was the first year of the Visual Communications-sponsored study abroad trip to London.
Craig Cutler (VC'83) was awarded the University of Delaware Presidential Citation for Outstanding Achievement.
. . . 2 0 0 2
Raven Press at the University of Delaware established.
Ann Lemon (VC'84) was awarded the University of Delaware Presidential Citation for Outstanding Achievement.
. . . 2 0 0 3
Raven Press at the University of Delaware established.
Raven Press logo designed by British graphic designer, Alan Fletcher. Ben Thoma & Karla Burger Cushman instigated the project.
. . . 2 0 0 4
Concentration in Illustration approved.
. . . 2 0 0 5
During VCUK'05 Ray & Jill's flat was 200 yards from the bus that was bombed by terrorists London. Four students were coming over to do a bookmaking workshop and were coming up in the elevator when the bomb went off.
Working with Bernie Herman, Director of the Center for American Material Culture Studies, Ray Nichols, and a dozen VC students produce the book entitled, "People Were Close." The 108-page book tells the story of the African-American community in Newark bounded by New London Road from the train tracks north to Clayton Hall, including Rose, Ray, Corbit and Mill streets. The visual highlight of the book is a 2" x 80' (as in feet) photographic panorama of multiple-angle views of every building along the included streets that runs along the bottoms of the pages. (see 2006 for the 2nd book in the series). This area as home to the African-American community is essentially gone at this point (2018) and many of the houses have been torn down and rebuilt as student apartments.
. . . 2 0 0 6
The second of two books designed by VC students through the Center for American Material Culture Studies is designed and printed. This full color, 120-page book entitled "Food, Poems, and Stories," is a combination of recipes and history based on interviews with residents recorded through a project by Bernie Herman’s seniors. (see 2005 for the 1st book in the series).
Tesia Farquhar Barone (VC'97) directed the movie short, "Rent Control." The movie was an official selection in the DC Independent Film Festival and the FirstGlance Film Festival. It won for best screenplay in the HypeFest Film Festival.
Ray Nichols retires and starts Lead Graffiti, a letterpress laboratory of sorts, in Newark, DE.
Ashley Pigford hired (2006 - present), graphic design.
Colette Gaiter hired (2006 - present), interactive media
. . . 2 0 0 7
6 pieces produced through Raven Press included in Steven Heller and Gail Anderson's book, New Vintage Type.
Ray Nichols & Jill Cypher design and supply photography for "Histories of Newark: 1758 - 2008," a 288-page hardback book on the history of Newark, Delaware.
. . . 2 0 0 8
Art Directors Club of New York's "Grandmasters" exhibition included the work of 26 graduates of the Visual Communications program.
. . . 2 0 0 9
Laurie Churchman (VC'85), principal of Designlore, elected as an AIGA / Fellow by AIGA / Philadelphia.
Speaking of AIGA / Philadelphia, Rose DiSanto pitched and then started, a mentoring program, pairing professional with students and recent grads. The first year had 10 pairs and 2015 had 98. No way that isn't a great thing. If you, students or professionals, are in or around Philadelphia consider getting yourself involved.
GrandArmy was founded by Eric Collins (VC'08), Joey Ellis (VC'08), and Larry Pepitone (VC'08), on April Fools Day
. . . 2 0 1 0
David Brinley hired (2010? - present), foundations & illustration
. . . 2 0 1 1
Eric Collins (VC'08, Joey Ellis (VC'08), & Larry Pipitone (VC'08) of GrandArmy awarded the title of Young Guns by the Art Directors Club of New York.
Howie Ronay (VC'92), Creative Director for DraftFCB, was the recipient of multiple Lion Awards at Cannes for his work on KMart's "Ship my pants" campaign.
. . . 2 0 1 4
Odysseus Arms, an advertising and storytelling agency in San Francisco for just 3 yeaars, founded by Franklin Tipton (VC'91) and Libby Brockhoff (VC'92) in 2011, was named Small Agency of the Year by Advertising Age.
Eric Collins (VC'08, Joey Ellis (VC'08), & Larry Pipitone (VC'08) of GrandArmy complete the visual rebranding of the U.S. Postal System.
. . . 2 0 1 5
About this time AdAge came out with the 15 best campaigns of the century so far. Four of them were represented by grads from the Visual Communications Group. Nancy Miller Vonk (VC'79) was ranked #1 for her work for Dove: Campaign for Real Beauty, DJ Pierce (VC'93) #7 for American Express: Small Business Saturday, #9 to Karl Lieberman (VC'99) for Thank You, Mom, P&G/Olympics, Karl Lieberman (VC'99) and Brandon Henderson (VC'99) were #11 for Dos Equis: Most Interesting Man in the World. Four out of 15 is a pretty damn good ratio.
Graphic Design in the Visual Communications program is ranked 14th of U.S. degree programs. I think this has been true for a couple of years, but the current online article in "Graphic Design Degree Hub" is copyrighted 2015.
Eric Collins (VC'08, Joey Ellis (VC'08), & Larry Pipitone (VC'08) of GrandArmy complete the visual rebranding of KFC.
. . . 2016
. . . 2017
. . . 2018
Oberland, a social advocacy-focused firm, co-founded by Bill Oberlander (VC'80), creating top-notch work for clients including the Nature Conservancy, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, was awarded AdAge's Small Agency of the Year.
CampaignUS does a nice article on “The Unsung Women of Advertising” and opens with Libby Brockhoff (VC’92}
. . . 2019
Other notable dates might be (1) merger with Illustration (2) Interactive Media Minor (3) Computer Lab
Jackie Dreja McTear So cool. We were the first to have a beginning design on the Mac class in '88 or '89. We had the super small little ones I think. I have fond memories of the dark Annex basement and drafty top floor where we had our desks. Everything became so high tech after us and now you have swank digs. But I wouldn't trade it for the way it was for us. Hands on, gritty, all about concept. Also, I graduated in '89 with a BS.
Laurie Frankel I think program name change was in 1982 not 85
Laurie Frankel When were the Plato computers installed? I feel like it was in 80 or 81