After 27 years of service, graphic communication professor Mike Blum has retired from teaching.
Blum, known as the “Digital Guru,” helped to create partnerships with the Cal Poly Graphic Communication Department and Apple, Adobe and Macromedia as well as other software companies. He also “developed and coordinated the graphic communication concentrations in computers and printing technology, electronic publishing and imaging and Web and digital media,” as well as “(introduced) the graphic communication minor and developed a general education course on web and print publishing,” according to a press release.
Harvey Levenson, graphic communication department chair, said he worked with Blum from the beginning of his career at Cal Poly in 1984, and that he is “unquestionably one of the most knowledgeable people in the world in the area of digital imaging.”
“You don’t replace a person like him,” Levenson said. “He’s the type where he’s going out in a blaze of glory. No slow down whatsoever.”
Although Blum will retire from teaching, Levenson said he will have a lasting influence on the department. With accomplishments like helping to create the first color poster made on an Apple computer in the mid-‘80s, Levenson said an endowment in Blum’s honor was started, called the Mike Blum Graphic Communication Endowment, so that “his name will live on forever.”
Blum will continue to work on research projects, training of new hires and projects with the Graphic Communication Institute (GrCI) on campus, Levenson said. According to its website, GrCI “is an outreach effort of the university’s graphic communication department, created to provide industry professionals with access to Cal Poly’s state-of-the-art resources via workshops, custom training programs, consulting, laboratory testing and research initiatives.”
Blum said although he will still “continue to do some research and consulting in the field,” he also plans to travel recreationally and do volunteer work, perhaps even combine travel and volunteer work together. Yet, he still felt proud of his work with Cal Poly.
“I feel good,” Blum said. “I feel like it’s been a great place to work and like I’ve made a valuable contribution to the students who have gone here and the department, but I feel like it’s time to move on.”
In regards to his teaching career, Blum said he most enjoyed working with students and witnessing their success in the career world. He also said that with new students coming in with “higher and higher GPAs,” as well as more technological knowledge, it has been really fun to teach.
Graphic communication sophomore Sean Garnsey recently took a digital photography course with Blum and said Blum’s class was the most relevant and fun class he’s taken at Cal Poly.
“Professor Blum is incredibly knowledgeable, gave us valuable critiques on our work and encouraged us to be creative with our lab work,” said Garnsey. “I just got through finishing my first year here, so my very first class with him was the last class that he will have taught in his career, but he has definitely made an impact on me.”
Though Blum’s retirement means future students will no longer benefit from his knowledge, both Blum and Levenson said the department will continue to excel with two new faculty members, who Blum helped select and hire. Levenson said the very modern department will continue to be on the forefront of the industry.
“(The) graphic communication department is a fantastic department, and it’s a world class of the very top, top programs in the world,” Blum said, proud to have been involved with the department. “It’s been wonderful to have the opportunity to work here. And I’m glad I’ll still be associated with the department.”