Like base runners rounding the plates, baseball connects Alexa Fletcher to her dad. “My dad has traveled for work every week for about 15 years, so baseball is always something we could talk about no matter where he is in in the world.” In a few years, if all goes according to plan, Alexa and her dad will be talking about her work promoting baseball. She’s enrolled in UMD’s new Marketing and Graphic Design program with a very specific purpose, “I'm hoping to give myself an edge when I apply for jobs in Major League Baseball.”
Jobs are the program’s catalyst. It’s a unique partnership between the School of Fine Arts (SFA) and the Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE). Both schools would get calls from employers looking for grads that were talented marketers and graphic designers. “We were receiving calls from the industry saying that they had huge unmet needs,” explains Praveen Aggarwal, interim associate dean at LSBE. Conversations about how to meet those needs began two years ago, coming to fruition this fall with two parallel degree programs: a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing and Graphic Design from LSBE and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design and Marketing from SFA.
The program is not for the faint of heart. Explains Aggarwal, “We’re offering graduate level skills at the undergraduate level.” Beyond a myriad of graphic design courses, students will take classes in both micro and macroeconomics, the fundamentals of selling, and consumer behavior, just to name a few. Students in both programs must complete a rigorous application process.
The number of people who can participate is capped at 40; each program can have up to 20 students in it. LSBE and SFA will continue to build the degree, seeing it as a growth area, but students see the limited capacity as an opportunity for an outstanding education. “I think the small size of the program will be one of its best features, something that other majors don’t really provide,” says Marketing and Graphic Design major Gunner Slette.
Bill Payne, dean of the School of Fine Arts, appreciates what this program offers students and also what the collaboration signifies, “In the past, higher education was very specialized, but there’s been a shift. This collaboration is opening the door to interdisciplinary education.”
And opening the door to more career possibilities. Says Marketing and Graphic Design major Blake Johnston, “It would be difficult to get a decent advertising job with only a marketing degree, but a Marketing and Graphic Design degree will really put me ahead of the crowd.” The reason? "Design is everywhere," explains Payne. "Employers said they need this program, they need students who can switch lenses and know how to talk to people about more aspects of advertising." So when it's time to find that job, this major, combining the art of design with the savviness of selling, will help students hit it out of the park.
Story written by Lori C. Melton, firstname.lastname@example.org