WLU designated second best graphic design school in West Virginia


It’s no secret that the Hilltop is something of a hidden gem within the greater community and region, but, unsurprisingly, it seems that the nation and world have been taking note. In 2019, the Animation Career Review celebrated WLU as the second-best graphic design School in the entire state of W. Va.; in 2021, the same journal has once again cited our program here on the Hilltop as the number two contender for the top five graphic design schools within the state. Both rankings were led by West Virginia University in Morgantown; however, the other members of the group, within the published rankings by the Animation Career Review, switched between schools such as Marshall University and Concord University, with this year’s review showcasing Shepherd University in the eastern panhandle of W.Va. as a contender as well.

The Animation Career Review states that, in developing these rankings, 710 colleges were considered, with the most recent batch of surveys asking the public about these findings having gone out in September of 2020; employment data was added to the ranking criteria as well for the 2021 rankings. The criteria that is used to decide these rankings are as follows: academic reputation, admission selectivity, depth and breadth of the program, value as it relates to tuition and indebtedness, and, as stated previously, employment data.

Within the published rankings itself, the Animation Career Review goes into discuss the various programs West Liberty offers its students within the College of Arts and Communications; these include the Department of Journalism, Communication Studies & Visual Arts, home to the Division of Art, which offers BS degrees in Visual Communication Design (VCD) (with a Track in Illustration) and Digital Media Design. The article also states that “Students in both programs ‘will experience lectures, workshops, tutorials, and project work,’ says the school. They will also ‘develop a broad range of communication skills in visualization, communication, presentation, writing, and technology.’ Opportunities for independent learning and internships are also available.” They also go on to discuss the broad range of real world clients that students enrolled within upper levels VCD courses will work with as a part of their required practicum; these include, but are not limited to, “4-H Foundation of Hancock County, Echo International, The John Fowles Society, The Ohio Valley Museum Consortium, St. Vincent de Paul Parish – Wheeling, The Strand Theatre Preservation Society, and WV Arts and Crafts Guild, to name a few. Past internships include Action Images, Center for Educational Technologies, Challenger Space Center, Design and Image Studio, Lamar Advertising, and Oglebay Institute.”

Finally, the article cites that successful graduates of WLU’s Digital Media Design and VCD programs are prepared to be successful candidates for jobs within the fields of “Arts Administration, Copywriting, Graphic Design, Multimedia, Publishing, and Web Design, along with Specialist careers in the Art, Design, and Digital Media industries.”

Frankie Lander, a Freshman here on the Hilltop and a VCD major, shared their feelings of surprise on the topic when they learned that West Liberty University was receiving so much attention; “It’s always reassuring and exciting to hear about the school you go to in news like this, especially when it’s about the program that you’re enrolled in and studying and love. It lets me know I made the right choice, but also tells everyone I know and work with that I’m receiving a quality education that’s going to prepare me for the real world of art and design. Not many people my age get to say that.”

For more information regarding the programs offered in the College of Arts and Communication here on the Hilltop, please reach out to the Dean, Dr. Matthew Harder at [email protected]. Questions regarding the content in this article should be directed to Creed Kidney at [email protected].