Graphic communications department head Dr. Harvey Levensen (left) rerceives a plaque from Carl Joachim nof Rioch Americas Corporation in commemoration of the department's new partnership with the company. Photo courtesy of Brian Lawler
Graphic communications department head Dr. Harvey Levensen (left) receives a plaque from Carl Joachim of Rioch Americas Corporation in commemoration of the department's new partnership with the company. Photo courtesy of Brian Lawler

Many of the world’s leaders in the print and design industries gathered at this years’ International Printing Week hosted by Cal Poly’s Graphic Communication department. From Jan. 17 to Jan. 23, the GrC department — one of the largest and best-known graphics and printing programs of its kind in the U.S. — created the week-long forum for Cal Poly students to engage with companies like RR Donnelly, Adobe, Rochester Institute of Technology and Ricoh Americas Corporation and pay tribute to late-industry leaders through award and endowment funds.

The annual event covers trends and developments in graphic communication technology, design, printed electronics, management, packaging, software, hardware and printing processes. It also commemorates Benjamin Franklin, an early pioneer of printing technology.

Beyond the instructional and informational presentations, Print Week brought more to the academic table than merely new industry methods and advancements. Ricoh Americas Corporation, subsidiary of Ricoh Company, Ltd of Tokyo, Japan, is a leading producer of digital office automation equipment and donated a digital printing lab to Cal Poly. The lab was dedicated and demonstrated to students and faculty during Digital Printing and Ricoh day, Jan. 21.

Carl Joachim, vice president of marketing of Ricoh Americas Corporation said to the GrC department at Cal Poly during Thursday’s keynote presentation “we have a lot to learn about what (you) do.”

Joachim listed three reasons for being involved as a sponsor of the 2010 International Printing Week: gain exposure to an academic view of the industry, present Ricoh’s ideas by engaging in a dialogue with students and faculty, and find, through Cal Poly, where the industry is headed.

“Our vision was to align with a leading educational institution focused on our industry, and to provide value to students and the graphic communication industry as a whole,” Joachim said. “Giving back to our industry and ensuring our customers prosper is a social responsibility we are deeply committed to. It was clear from our first meeting together that Ricoh and Cal Poly hold shared values.”

Philanthropy was a motif at Print Week’s banquet. In addition to Ricoh’s announcement of partnership with Cal Poly, a new endowment is being formed.

A “Philosopher of Printing” Endowment, honoring the late Paul B. Kissel (1917 ­– 2009), who served as editor of PRINT-EQUIP News for 30 years, will soon provide GrC and Cal Poly money for scholarships and academic programming related to the print industry.

Kissel was the most senior industry journalist in the United States. He died Oct. 11, 2009, at age 91.

Head of Cal Poly’s GrC department, Dr. Harvey Levenson, spoke about Kissel during Thursday’s wrap-up banquet and commented on his importance to the industry.

“Paul Kissel was one of the most ethical, thoughtful and pleasant people in our industry,” Levenson said. “He had a long and prestigious career. He was a journalist, scholar, mentor and philosopher. We like to think of him as the ‘Printing Philosopher.’”

While the endowment is still in the establishing process, Levenson said, “I’m sure we will be able to meet the threshold of the endowment in very short order.”

Once the threshold has been met, students and academic programs will be supported by the endowment that can continue to sustain itself. The award will be given annually to deserving students committed to management, technology, leadership and communication in the graphic arts profession.

Additionally, Print Week included 18 presentations and discussions on design reproduction technology and packaging, gravure and digital printing.

The week ended with the Graphic Communication Career Day, in which 16 firms participated. Over 200 students attended the Career Fair, and nearly 100 interviews were held in the afternoon by the participating companies.

Many Cal Poly GrC alumni returned to the familiar week-long event to network and recruit. Among them was Ian Redmond, Class of 2005, now president of Eagle Press, a company based in Sacramento operating under Consolidated Graphics (CGS), a national, commercial printing company.

“The increase this year in hiring reflects a strategy of Eagle and CGS to move forward while others are maintaining size,” Redmond said. “Since last winter quarter, we’ve seen some of the best applicants in a while.”

The heightened quality of applicants from Cal Poly and other national programs could be greatly influenced by the shortage of job offers as a result of companies cutting back and recruiting less, and in short term turning applicants more competitive.

This competition has pushed Cal Poly’s GrC department and its students to the forefront, acting as a resource for even the largest of front-running companies.

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