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Graphic Design Bachelor’s Degree Builds Creativity and Critical Thinking

Professor Bob Hankin’s love of graphic design, and the chance to share his passion, brought him to Bellevue University 21 years ago.  His students’ excitement for learning design has kept him here.

Bob is program director for the Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design, one of Bellevue University’s largest online undergraduate programs with over 300 students each term. Its popularity signifies student desire to develop creative skills while learning technology tools that bring ideas to life. 

According to Bob, the graphic design field has broadened over the past 10 years. “Graphic design was always an attractive job,” he said. “But now there are roles in branding, website design, social media, publishing, print media, employee communications and more. Designers can work as ‘creator’ entrepreneurs, or seek jobs with design studios, marketing agencies and corporations.” The Bellevue University Graphic Design courses are intentionally developed for a variety of design career paths.

Bob indicated people often ask if artificial intelligence (AI) will replace graphic designers. “The way I see it is AI is a tool just like all of the other technology,” he described. The key is to teach students how to use AI effectively and ethically. It still takes smart people to pull together creative solutions for whatever business problem is at hand.” One example of the importance of the human factor is in logo design where solutions must be timeless and memorable. “Our students learn to explain every design which pushes them to always think things through,” Bob added.

Even in the digital age, some wonder if it’s possible to learn graphic design in a 100% online program. “Bellevue University has been offering online learning for nearly 30 years — longer than I’ve been around here,” Bob laughed. “Today, there are more tools than ever for effective learning online. Feedback from our graduates indicates mastering graphic design skills is not only possible, but preferred.”

Bob says his job is to listen to student feedback and continuously create new learning resources. Two of the most effective are weekly video summaries of coursework and “how to: videos. “In the online environment, students need resources at their fingertips when they have a question — day or night,” Bob described. “I always remind students I am here for them, too, via email or Zoom.”

I'm here to set a high bar and help students get to where they want to go.  When I see light bulbs have gone off in the learning process, it’s magical!

Bob Hankin, Associate Professor and Program Director

At Bellevue University, professors are fortunate to have the freedom to design and deliver learning in the ways we think are most effective,” Bob emphasized. Not every student is the same so we need the flexibility to try different approaches and ultimately, do what works.”

As an experienced professor, Bob sometimes finds he has to remind students that learning does take time and effort. “In today’s world, we all expect everything to happen lightning fast but you can’t ‘Door Dash’ learning to you,” he said.  The really successful students understand the path includes hard work, persistence and keeping their priorities straight.”

Bob’s tips for students actually apply to any degree program: Show you want to be here and you care about your work. Be excited and engage with your professors, as well as other students.  Ask good questions and lots of them. Also, realize that mistakes are just part of the learning process.”

“I’m here to set a high bar and help students get to where they want to go,” Bob described.  “When I see light bulbs have gone off in the learning process, it’s magical!”

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