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An Open Letter to the Printing Industry: Why Ray Prince’s gift to Cal Poly is significant for all of our industry

Monday, November 23, 2015

Press release from the issuing company

Dear Industry Colleagues and Friends,

Through his gift of $2.3 million, Ray Prince spoke to our industry and education. He sent a message about the importance of preserving and advancing scholarship, professional development, and history in the graphic communication field and academic discipline.

This letter is about a remarkable university, faculty and staff, administration, industry support group, and remarkable students that support the values and initiatives represented by Ray Prince’s gift.

I need to tell the story of how we got here.

When I arrived at Cal Poly in 1983, the Graphic Communication Department was a “diamond in the rough.” When I retired from Cal Poly (but not from the industry) in 2013, after 30 continuous years as a Professor and Department Head, the faculty and staff had converted the Graphic Communication Department into a “shining diamond.” Cal Poly stood out among colleges and universities worldwide in educating students and training professionals for the printing and related fields to understand industry needs of the early 21st century and beyond.

The university recognized the potential of the Graphic Communication Department in servicing a changing industry with a greater than 500-year history that contributed more to the production and distribution of knowledge than most other industries. The university saw this role as one that must continue for generations to come. It was a highly knowledgeable and trained faculty and staff that allowed us to do this with substantial support provided by the Cal Poly administration and by the graphic communication industry.

What did the faculty and staff achieve over those 30 years?

• One of the largest and most diverse endowments in graphic arts education.

• An Advisory Board of prominent leaders from leading companies and institutions in our industry.

• Over 33,000 square feet of laboratories reflecting current technology of the field.

• The development of the Graphic Communication Institute at Cal Poly (GrCI) providing research, testing, training, and related services for industry.

• The diversification of a faculty from having no women to one having nearly 50 percent women.

• The academic qualifications of a faculty that had one Ph.D. to nearly half of the faculty having PhDs.

• The professional development of faculty as researchers, writers and authors, speakers, and most importantly, distinguished scholars and teachers.

• The presence of faculty at important industry meetings, seminars, conferences, and expositions worldwide as attendees and presenters.

• A student application pool that far exceeds the number that could be admitted, resulting in a student body representing the top of their high school graduating classes—the future leadership of the graphic communication industry.

• A dynamic curriculum recognizing and addressing the industry’s present and future needs.

• Graduate programs in Document Systems Management (a partnership with Cal Poly’s  Orfalea College of Business) and in Printed Electronics and Functional Imaging.

• The preservation of the rich historical significance of the printing industry, its intellectual contribution to society, and educational and industry programs that continue the industry’s significance into the future.

In sum, the Cal Poly Graphic Communication faculty and staff did well.

I believe in succession.

When I retired from Cal Poly in 2013, my charge to the faculty and staff was to bring the Graphic Communication Department to its next level, to continue an upward spiral of improvement in program curriculum and services to the industry, and to do even better than in the past 30 years.

Through the department’s new leadership, wise hiring decisions, and support from the administration and industry, they indeed achieved this.

Ray Prince’s enormously generous gift of $2.3 million to support scholarship, professional development, and the preservation of our industry’s history is evidence of the viability of Cal Poly’s Graphic Communication Department today and in the future.

Ray Prince is a visionary and a modern philosopher of printing. Gifts at this level are not given without careful research and assurances of present and future growth, development, and success. I have known Ray Prince for 47 years. We’ve worked together and collaborated together on professional and personal levels. We’ve followed each other’s careers and have been mutually supportive of our great industry. Ray Prince has placed an exclamation mark on what Cal Poly’s Graphic Communication Department has achieved, and has readied the department for its next upward momentum of improvement entrusted to a highly capable leadership team, and to a dynamic and uniquely qualified and experienced faculty and staff.

Because of Ray Prince, the rich tradition of the printing industry will be preserved—past, present, and future.

I am reminded of the words of Charles Dickens in his April 6, 1864 address to an anniversary meeting of the Printers' Pension Society on print and printers. Dickens said:

"The printer is the friend of intelligence, of thought; [the printer] is the friend of liberty, of freedom, of law; indeed the printer is the friend of every [person] who is the friend of order ... Of all the inventions, of all the great results in the wonderful progress of mechanical energy and skill, the printer is the only product of civilization necessary to the existence of free [people]."

Dickens’ words live on today in our tumultuous world, because all modern media—electronic, digital, social, and so on—that stimulate thought, advance liberty, law, and freedom of speech, are an extension of the printing industry and the printing press.

The “Raymond J. Prince Graphic Arts Collection” at Cal Poly and the funded gift in Ray Prince’s name are not only a symbol of the values expressed by Dickens, but will be a “working laboratory” allowing students and industry members alike to explore these values and how graphic communication has been a part the production and distribution of knowledge—past, present, and will be in the future.

With gratitude to Ray Prince and with best wishes to all,

Harvey R. Levenson, Ph. D.
Professor Emeritus
Graphic Communication Dept.
Cal Poly State University



By Deanna Gentile on Nov 23, 2015

Well said Harvey ... I had the privilege of attending the library dedication and spending time with Ray ... he is totally dedicated the preserving the library as are the people of Cal Poly's Graphic Communications Department and Kennedy Library. All the books and other materials will now be available to all who love print.


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