By Stacey Robertson
As Dean of the CWU College of Arts and Humanities for almost two years, I have come to appreciate the distinctiveness of each of our eight dynamic departments and four innovative interdisciplinary programs in serving the needs of our nearly 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students.
As an historian, I also am very familiar with the value of case studies and how they can tell stories of best practices through the use of concrete examples. When it comes to collaboration, there are many examples in the College of Arts and Humanities, highlighting how teamwork can be transformative.
All it takes is a little thinking outside the proverbial box, and exploring how one department’s skill sets can enhance the talents of another. A perfect case study of beneficial collaboration is the work of our Department of Art graphic designers teaming with the journalists from our Department of Communication.
We are all proud of Pulse, our nine-time, award-winning lifestyle online-and-conventional-print magazine, which captured the 2015 Best Student Magazine Mark of Excellence Award from the regional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).
The Pulse success story begins and ends with collaboration. Professor and mentor extraordinaire Jennifer Green partners with Editor-in-Chief Bailey Williams. They are joined by a dedicated group of 20 editors, photographers, reporter-writers and, notably a team of four graphic designers from the Department of Art including Creative Director Vanessa Cruz.
“What I love the most about the cross-department collaboration at Pulse is seeing how students from different backgrounds are inspired to put their own individual talents and interests to work on behalf of both their team and the publication,” Professor Green said. “This teamwork includes everything from photographs to page layouts, radio podcasts, video segments, web designs and much more.”
Upon taking over as the faculty advisor for Pulse five years ago, Professor Green reached out to the Art Department for design students who could contribute to a complete redesign of the magazine. That decision drew on the contributions of several Art faculty, including most recently Art Professor David Bieloh, and led to Art students becoming a permanent addition to the Pulse team.
“The collaboration with Pulse has been extremely valuable for our graphic design students,” said Professor Bieloh. “This is a team effort where our students get to work together with a professional group of student writers, editors, photographers, and journalists to produce a highly polished lifestyle magazine. They have really all done some beautiful work, and continue to amaze me.”
If you are looking for results of this collaboration, check out the awards garnered by Pulse in the past four-plus years:
2016 – Finalist, Best Student Magazine – Associated College Press (national – one of 22 selected nationwide)
2016 – Fourth place, Feature Magazine – Associated College Press, Best of Show Award
2016 – Honorable Mention, Juried Student Art Show, Central Washington University Art Department
2015 – Winner, Best Student Magazine – Society of Professional Journalists, Mark of Excellence Award (regional)
2015 – Winner, Non-Fiction Magazine Article – Society of Professional Journalists, Mark of Excellence Award (regional)
2015 – Fourth place, Best Student Magazine – Associated College Press, Best of Show Award
2015 – Finalist, Best Use of Multimedia – Society of Professional Journalists, Mark of Excellence Award (regional)
2013 – Finalist, Online Feature Reporting – Society of Professional Journalists, Mark of Excellence Award (regional)
2012 – Third place, Best Student Magazine – Society of Professional Journalists, Mark of Excellence Award (regional)
Pulse Creative Director Vanessa Cruz, a graphic arts junior, confers with Editor-in-Chief Bailey Williams, a broadcast journalism senior on the next issue of CWU’s lifestyle magazine. Photo by Pulse photographer Jack Lambert
Just taking a few minutes with Pulse editor-in-chief, Bailey Williams, a broadcasting journalism senior from Des Moines, and Vanessa Cruz, a graphic design junior from Tacoma, you can quickly discern that departmental boundaries have no bearing on their successful collaboration. They and their colleagues are all integral parts of the award-winning team.
Vanessa is unabashed in stating that she loves working for the magazine, particularly making each story visually more interesting and compelling. As editor-in-chief, Bailey is always asking how Pulse can more effectively employ photographs and graphics to make a good article into a great story.
Pulse has also been able to send Art students to college journalism conferences nationwide. And the successful collaboration between Communication and Art is extending to another award-winning publication, CWU’s student newspaper, The Observer, under the stewardship of Professor Cynthia Mitchell.
We know from our high-achieving alumni that the collaboration between the Departments of Communication and Art reflect best-practice trends in many industries. No one works in a silo any longer. Many corporations are designing work spaces to encourage teamwork. In providing for and encouraging cross-disciplinary collaboration, we are preparing our students for success as they launch their careers.
There are more case studies of teamwork between and among our departments and programs. We can hardly wait to tell our LaunchPad readers all about them.