My Road to Creativity, 16: Assistant Professor, Tenure:

Over the course of the last four years, my meditation practice was lost. I hadn’t picked up a book other than design books and periodicals since I started grad school. Thus, my anxiety level was at an all time high. And now I was facing tenure and promotion. I liked being at ISU. I was close to my two kids. My wife’s work and friends were there. What if I was refused. I didn’t want to thing about it. I was a nervous wreck.

With the help from the Department Chairperson and my mentor, I put together my documents for promotion and tenure which turned out to be  a very large document . . . about two ionches thick. It surprised and amazed me how much I had already done my short career as a professor. I was quite impressed. I hoped the tenure committees would be. 

There were two ways to be recognized enough to receive promotion and tenure, one was research, in the design teaching profession, that would consist of a large body of creative work that would be locally and nationally recognized, all that and service such as committee work. My design work was not that extensive. While I had done some free lance work as well as my silk screening, some of which I had entered into juried shows of which I had several pieces that received local awards and one that received a national award, but that was not enough to show that I was a hot shot innovative designer.

Teaching was by far my strongest suit. My student reviews were by now were very good. I had restructured syllabi for several courses and had developed three new ones: Advanced Typography, Environmental Graphics, and Publication Design, the later which was done in conjuction with the Meredith Corporation in Des Moines. I had served on both the Department on Art and Design Curriculum Committee as well as the College Curriculum Committee.  

Along with all this, I had begun to teach Honors Seminars through the University Honors Program that met once a week for an hour, and which offered nice stipends. The topic of the seminar could be on any topic the professor wanted to offer and with approval from the Honors Committee.

The stipend helped subsidize my screen printing and later on, my first computer, a Macintosh with a graphics interface, a small built in screen, and a mouse. It had a small black and white monitor and very little memory and all file storage was on floppy disks. The operating system was even on a floppy that had to be inserted and loaded each and every time I booted it up. But, it was the first computer that one was able to create images with a mouse. It was primitive and crude by today’s standards, but was innovative at the time. The output was by means of a dot matrix printer that rendered the output with ragged choppy edges. The text was the same, very ragged. One designer even created a new typeface called “Dot Matrix”, as I recall.

Screen printing inks were toxic, both to handle and to breath, so I did some research into using water based inks. They didn’t work quite in the same manner and I wrote a paper on the differences and how I was able to adjust. The problem was at that time, there were no publications or outlets to share what I was finding.

One of my major coups was I was able to leverage my having met Wolfgang Weingart into getting him as a guest lecturer at the University for three days in 1984. 

I had served on two graduate committees. I had mentored several students that had received national awards. 

As it turned out, my portfolio of teaching and service got me promotion to associate professor with tenure in 1991. 

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