BGSU visual communication technology program celebrates 50 years of preparing students for in-demand careers

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – Founded in 1973 as a pioneering program designed to equip students with a wide range of skills, the Bowling Green State University visual communication technology program is celebrating 50 years of educating and producing effective, versatile visual media problem-solvers.

Rather than focusing on a singular aspect of visual media, the BGSU program introduces students to print, photography, videography and interactive media and how each can be applied in various scenarios — a concept established long before it became a common practice in the industry.

BGSU VCT alumni have become company presidents, marketing operations directors, producers, photographers, videographers, instructional designers, social media directors and chief design officers, representing the vast, in-demand career opportunities available for VCT graduates.

“We’ve been preparing students to be media agile for the last five decades,” said Dr. Donna K. Trautman, associate VCT professor at BGSU. “They graduate from our program with a broad skill set that allows them to make educated decisions about the best way to solve diverse visual communication needs.

“Students will typically gravitate toward one specialty, but having a broad foundation in numerous aspects of visual media is incredibly valuable in the industry today.”

Dr. Gene Poor, professor emeritus in the BGSU College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering, and the late Dr. Jerry Streichler, a former technology professor and the founding dean of the College of Technology, developed the concept of “gifted generalist” as a foundation for the program.

Their unique, interdisciplinary approach has continued to be a driving factor in the successful careers of many alumni.

Alumni success

As a senior staff UX – or user experience – manager at YouTube, Whitney Taylor ’08 has spearheaded new ways for creators to connect with their fans around video, with experiences like comments, posts, stories, channel subscriptions and social tools like hashtags, mentions and sharing. She’s also highly involved in the features' design, functionality and strategy.

“We make technology easy for people to use,” Taylor said. “We design everything from how the product works, to how it looks.

“Everything we’re doing at YouTube is within and around video. I learned the foundations of layout, color, typography, animation, storyboarding and even user research in the VCT program. I definitely learned the base of my skills at BGSU.”

As part of the VCT degree, students complete paid co-ops, providing relevant work experience before graduation and a competitive edge in launching their careers — something to which alumnus Chad Butler ’18 can attest. 

Butler said his co-ops led to his full-time position as a multimedia designer for Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s second-largest county, and as a long-term freelance cinematographer for NFL Films, the film and television production company for the NFL.

“Those internships played a huge part in the careers I have today,” Butler said.

During the week, Butler does videography, photography and editing work for the county and spends most weekends during the football season on the sidelines of NFL games.

His footage regularly appears on NFL Network and ESPN and has been featured in documentaries on Netflix, Prime and Roku.

“I’m grateful to BGSU for leading me to these incredible opportunities,” Butler said.

The versatility of the VCT program has also been integral to the success of alumnus Kevin Cedar ’17, the esports content manager and social media manager for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Cedar creates digital content for the Cavs Legion Gaming Club, the NBA 2K League affiliate of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He coordinates media days with players, shoots photography and video and manages social channels for the Cavs Legion — tapping into many of the skills he learned in the BGSU VCT program.

Cedar is also a photographer and videographer for the Cleveland Cavs, Cleveland Monsters, the AHL affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and shoots concert photography for Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in downtown Cleveland.

"I wanted to go into VCT because I felt like it was more versatile, and it was going to teach me exactly what I needed for a successful career," Cedar said. "With VCT, you know how to do a little bit of everything, and that’s exactly what I do with my job now."

BGSU VCT alumni are located across the globe, continuing to impact organizations, large and small, with their creative and innovative approaches to visual communication.

Updated: 10/12/2023 01:39PM