Oklahoma Christian University’s art and design department has undergone several unique changes for the fall semester, including renaming the Department of Art and Design as the School of Art and Design. This labeling change occurs when a university has a certain amount of students enrolled in a specific program.
Amy Beauchamp, program chair for the School of Art and Design, explained the significance of the label change for Oklahoma Christian.
“In the past, we’ve had close to 10% of the student body just in the art and design department, so we made a case for being called the School of Art and Design,” Beauchamp said. “That elevates the status of how we’re perceived to competing schools.”
While competition in the art and design world is high, Oklahoma Christian is doing its part to educate and cultivate the true potential of its art students.
Kelly Romeo, assistant professor for the School of Art and Design, shared the steps the school is taking to ensure student’s success.
“Our goal is to create more opportunities for students to get internships and job offers by fostering relationships with studios,” Romeo said. “We’re already making progress on both fronts through relationships made with local studios and groups like the Christian Game Developers Conference (CGDC), who have begun utilizing Oklahoma Christian students to help work on upcoming game titles.”
The School of Art and Design also focuses on current industry practices in order to best prepare students for the career force.
“We consult with industry professionals as to what studios are looking for in new hires, and we present all of this to the students as a real-world view of what they can expect life to be like in the industry.” Romeo said. “This helps students ‘envision’ themselves in their chosen roles and helps them prepare accordingly. In addition, we address every student’s portfolio one-on-one in an effort to make each student as marketable as possible.”
Another change to the School of Art and Design is the inclusion of new professor Judson Copeland, who switched from the marketing team of Oklahoma Christian to teaching graphic design this fall.
“This is actually my second time at Oklahoma Christian,” Copeland said. “My transition to the teaching side of things was because there is a vacancy, but it’s something I had been interested in doing, so I’m kind of dipping my toe in the water.”
Due to the fluid nature of art and design career fields, constant changes in the curriculum are required to keep up with industry standards.
“Professor Copeland is replacing the former graphic design instructor and filling that role really well,” Beauchamp said. “He’s making some changes to the degree to modernize it and to get it to current practice, which I think is a good thing.”
In addition to modernizing the Graphic Design Degree, Copeland also wants to engage with the vibrant art and design community.
“I hope my students see that becoming a graphic designer is secondary to the fact that I do really want to know them as a person,” Copeland said. “I guess I wasn’t really expecting to be over here. But oftentimes, opportunities don’t happen where you want them to.”