Greene and Pell have been teaching together at Michigan State University for nearly 30 years and are known as a duo among their students and colleagues. The two advised the Michigan State student SND chapter from its founding. The two have brought students to countless SND events, served on the SND board and hosted SND quick courses at Michigan State.
SND.org editor Aviva Loeb, caught up with Greene and Pell to ask them about their teaching philosophies, favorite memories and how the changing industry has effected their classrooms. The duo answered all questions together.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE MEMORY FROM SND? It’s difficult to cite just one. There are several memories that stand out.
- • We loved watching Carrie Gee, now the senior art director at TIME magazine, win SND’s first “The Intern Competition.”
- • At the annual workshop in 2003 we enjoyed watching our students, for an event the next day, create a terrific video advertisement citing reasons to study design at Michigan State University. In a few hours they displayed amazing teamwork by using only a computer and an iPod.
- • We had many opportunities to appreciate and encourage our students on the van and plane trips we took to attend SND annual workshops, quick courses and judging events.
- • And finally, we had the chance to pose with our students for a group photo with Edmund C. Arnold, our affiliate’s namesake.
TO MSU STUDENTS YOU ARE AN ICONIC DUO. IT’S BEEN SAID THAT YOU’VE ALWAYS SHARED EACH OTHERS’ SUCCESS AND LEANED ON EACH OTHER. WHAT SPARKED THE CONNECTION? WHAT ABOUT EACH OF YOU BEST COMPLEMENTS THE OTHER? The arrival of the Mac sparked our connection. As a new faculty member, Cheryl had requested this cutting edge thing for her office called a Macintosh computer. In a sea of PCs only two other faculty members had such a device. One of them was Darcy, and she had to share it with another colleague. At one point we were the only two Mac lovers in the J-School. We do complement each other. Darcy tends to think things through carefully and thoroughly while Cheryl’s M.O. is, “just do it” and assess the results later. Opposites attract. We really can’t think of a time we disagreed.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WISH YOU KNEW AT THE BEGINNING OF YOUR CAREER THAT YOU KNOW NOW? We’re from the typewriter and landline world. Things got crazy fast when technology took off. If we knew we were going to have to continue to change software, work stations and delivery devices as often as we did, we would have buckled up tighter for the ride. But we embraced the challenges and taught our students to view innovations as opportunities for professional growth.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU’VE LEARNED WHILE TEACHING? We’ve learned that you can’t teach or design in a vacuum. We relied on those bigger than life front pages from the Newseum, design annuals from SND, advice from professionals at SND quick courses and annual workshops and from interactions with and feedback from our students.
HOW HAS SND PLAYED A ROLE IN WHAT YOU TEACH IN THE CLASSROOM? When Dale Peskin said, “swing for the fences,” we took it to heart. When our students assisted at the judging in Syracuse, we scooped up all of the extra pages from the huge pile and used them in our classrooms as valuable teaching materials. When a new SND Design magazine hit our mailboxes, we copied the “how-to” pages for our students. With the improvement of the web — and especially the advent of Newspagedesigner.org — we were able to share so many more pages with our students. It’s safe to say that SND played a significant role in how we structured our classroom environment.
HOW HAS THE ADDITION OF NEW PLATFORMS IMPACTED WHAT OR HOW YOU’RE TEACHING IN THE CLASSROOM? Darcy was instrumental in getting out first Mac lab installed in 1988. We started our students designing broadsheet newspapers on 9-inch monochrome Mac SEs. We were ecstatic our students created such great work on those tiny screens. Today, we use iMacs with large retina displays to create content for small, mobile screens.
We started designing for the web in hypercard and progressed with HTML and CSS. We still teach coding, and we welcomed Camp SND to the MSU campus in Jan. 2017.
We survived the software battles. We slogged through PageMaker to QuarkXPress to InDesign. Now most students have their own laptops and use Creative Cloud software. With SND’s help we learned how to create magazines for tablets and we passed that knowledge along to our students. They enjoy using the new platform and, for some, it got them jobs.
YOU BOTH TEACH COURSES ABOARD. WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM TAKING STUDENTS OUTSIDE TRADITIONAL CLASSROOMS? WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO STUDENTS FOR STUDYING ABROAD? Our participation in MSU’s overseas study programs has given us and our students opportunities to observe how news is presented in different countries and to experience how we as Americans can be portrayed in the foreign press.
Darcy’s students interacted with photojournalist Grace Robertson in London. In Parios, they met John Morris, who was the photo editor of Life magazine and edited Robert Capa’s photos on D-Day. Darcy has also held sessions at the Sunday Herald in Glasgow.
We believe that introducing students to new experiences in different environments is an essential element of the creative process and one that enhances the emotional and professional growth of our students.
About SND Charlotte
• Don’t miss your chance to UNITE & REBEL, register today: Register
• Book your hotel room (before they run out!): Use the SND discount link
• Check out the lineup of speakers we’ve announced for the workshop. What a team!
• Don’t miss the Think Before You Make pre-conference day at the U.S. National Whitewater Center