Home Feature Founder of Graphic Design Program Says Removal of his Fundamentals Course is ‘a Mistake’

Founder of Graphic Design Program Says Removal of his Fundamentals Course is ‘a Mistake’

by Montclarion Feature

Dr. Martin Greenwald sits in his office. He has jazz music playing in the background and walls covered with picture frames.

Jazz music is playing on a low volume while the clicking of a mouse can be heard from outside the small office. There are frames on the walls with photos of Corvette and Mustang cars alongside photos of scuba diving trips in the Southern Caribbean and Western Europe.

With a total of 45 years of teaching at Montclair State University, Greenwald admits that he first aspired to be a musician, then a dentist. Greenwald attended the High School of Music and Arts in New York City and has a strong background with classical piano.

“I wasn’t good enough. I loved music, but I knew I’d never be as good as the greats so that’s why I listen to jazz so much. I rather hear them make good music. But I did learn that I was good with my hands—I can’t draw but I can fix things,” said Greenwald, who listens to jazz and blues all day on Pandora, and credits his father, who played the trumpet, with exposing him to music.

Greenwald earned a B.A in biochemistry from New York University (NYU) in 1964 and then realized he did not want to become a dentist. He later got a B.S. and M.S. in technology education from the City College of New York (CCNY) in 1967 after an off-handed conversation with his parents at a diner.

“Growing up to me is, you do things that you don’t particularly want to do and [deal] with the realities thrown at you, but I would do it all over exactly again,” said Greenwald, whose mother suggested he pursue industrial design.

Similar to many young college students, Greenwald felt like he was capable of so much more, and by 1972, Greenwald obtained an Ed.D. in vocational education and media technology from NYU. Greenwald then became a faculty member at Montclair State focusing on graphic arts and alternate energy conversion technology.

Jerry Detoro, a graphic design student at Montclair State, is completely impressed by the program, and said that while his major can be challenging, he appreciates the way Greenwald is laid-back and makes the work seem less difficult.

“I feel bad for students who don’t get to experience this class,” Detoro said. “I took this class to understand my major a little better, and if this class isn’t here, how will someone be able to determine if graphic design is for them or not?”

Greenwald is currently teaching the fundamentals of Adobe Creative Suite, a course that will no longer be taught after the 2017 spring semester.

Greenwald, who has taught this course for the last 15 years, says that the course helps develop skills. In the course, he teaches tutorial-based classes on the use of Adobe Illustrator CS, InDesign CS, and Adobe Photoshop CS. Greenwald said that once the students become familiar with the program, it becomes easier for them to get creative.

“I think it’s a mistake,” Greenwald, who built the Graphic Design program with John Luttropp at Montclair State University, said of the elimination of his class. “The class that replaces ARGD 211 will take on a more general approach, whereas design needs to be more integrated with software. I approach learning the software as a skill. They want to use the integrated approach, but I don’t think that will be effective. But that is their determination, so it’s fine.”

Professor Greenwald, who has a background in print education, became a professor in the graphic design area. The program at the time had not been a major, but rather a specialization within the BA, BFA, and Studio Majors.

 Professor John Luttropp from the Graphic Design program in the Department of Art & Design at Montclair State, worked along with Greenwald on a team-taught print and production course, teaching sections of the what was then called Intro to Computer Graphics. This class evolved into Fundamentals of Adobe CS when the BFA in Graphic Design degree was introduced in 2007. 

 Over the last two years, the Department of Art and Design has been working on curriculum changes that would better reflect changes in both design and the fine arts. A committee comprised of full-time professors, along with outside consultants, helped develope new curricular guidelines for all of the Department’s undergraduate degrees. This change will take effect in Fall 2017. 

 According to Luttropp, the most recent development has been the degree program change which went from BFA in Graphic Design to BFA in Visual Communication Design to reflect the changes in the field to better include digital media. 

 “One of the recommendations of the committee is that a broad understanding of digital tools is a better foundation for incoming students than a specific software-based class, especially as most of our incoming students come to MSU with an understanding of the software currently taught in ARGD211,” said Luttropp. 

 Student Elisa Elias, a fine arts major with a concentration in drawing, said that she is currently taking Greenwald’s fundamentals of Adobe Creative Suite because she found herself interested in knowing more about graphic design. While the course is not a requirement for Elias, she enjoys the way the course is taught at a pace that allows students to express themselves creatively and freely.

“I don’t have to rush my work. I feel like that’s my favorite part because I’m able to do the best I can. It’s good too because I can put the work that I do in this class in my portfolio.”

Sara Borst, a fashion studies student, chimed in as Elias spoke about how much the class benefited her computer skills. She said, “I agree. I don’t need this class as a requirement either, but I’m here because every time I applied for internships, I was expected to know how to use Photoshop and Illustrator. This class does just that for me, plus he’s really nice to us.”

Greenwald walked toward a bookshelf that has 13 textbooks written by him ranging from design and installation of solar and alternate energy conversion systems to residential heating system technology to graphic design and communication technology. He has even authored an interactive CD and text on tropical forests.

Greenwald admits that he feels as though he has the best job in the world because he is surrounded with smart, young and talented people all day. He is proud of the success of the program and loves knowing that his and Luttropp’s hard work paid off when students come back with the news that they have landed their dream jobs out of college.

“It’s great to be here. It’s a fun place to be. Some could say I’ve never grown up,” said Greenwald as he began to talk about his cat named Q-tip.

Greenwald announced to his class that they would be the last group taking the fundamentals of Adobe Creative Suite course. The class shouted, “Why?” in unison.

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