new associate degree program that will offer three different choices of emphasis in the visual arts.
Beginning with the fall 2013 semester, GOCC will offer an Associate of Arts in Visual Arts degree with
emphasis in three different areas: Fine Art, Graphic Design and Commercial Photography.
According to Michael Northrop, GOCC professor of art, program development has been in the works for
“We put together a team of design professionals, local business representatives, faculty and students
from GOCC,” said Northrop. “Over the past two years, we held a series of meetings to discuss different
art program possibilities and we began to identify different needs in the visual arts.”
Northrop says the team researched the demand for visual art programs, while taking into consideration
programs offered through other schools, the strengths of the existing fine arts program and the space
requirements that would be necessary to start the program.
“In particular, the St. Joseph County Intermediate School District had a tremendous amount of interest
in the graphic design program, and was interested in teaming up with us to be able to offer it through
the Career and Technical Education offerings,” said Northrop.
“Career Technical Education in St. Joseph County is always working to meet the needs of the students in
our local districts,” said Ginny Kowalski, director of CTE for the St. Joseph County Intermediate School
“In the past few years, students have requested a CTE program where they can utilize their art skills and
explore careers related to art,” said Kowalski. “The Graphic Design program explores art, design and
color through MAC computers utilizing such software as Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe
Flash. I believe the students will love this program and it will spark their interest in pursuing the
Associate of Arts in Visual Arts.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, the job outlook is good for
students graduating with baccalaureate degrees in the visual arts. “Most of the jobs will require a four-
year degree, with the exception of commercial photography,” says Northrop, adding that commercial
photographers are in demand and students can pretty much start working as freelance photographers
right out of the associate’s program.
“With so many products and services offered online, there is an increased need for commercial
photography,” said Northrop. “As part of the commercial photography program, we wanted to be able
to teach darkroom techniques, while at the same time, offer digital imaging coursework.”
Northrop added that GOCC’s Robert Bartholomew, part-time art professor, recently discovered a way to
create negatives from digital camera files using PhotoShop. As a result of this technique, students are
not required to purchase a film-fed camera for the course.
The curriculum for the new Visual Arts programs offers students everything from the general studies
areas including the science and math requirements for other associate programs. The programs are fully
transferable into baccalaureate programs.
Northrop said the new offering will require increased space to accommodate studios and an Apple-
based computer lab. The college is currently evaluating the possibilities to house the new art and design
The college is also in the process of hiring a new faculty member to teach visual arts classes.
“Often, art classes have an appeal to the general community,” said Northrop, who expects there will be
a number of students who will enroll in the visual arts courses for personal pleasure.