Feb. 10, 2004

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Contact: Vickie Hamilton-Smith, School of Fine Arts, (785) 864-9742.

Hallmark Cards pledges $500K for KU design department

LAWRENCE -- The Department of Design at the University of Kansas School of Fine Arts has announced approval of a three-year, $500,000 grant from Hallmark Cards Inc., Kansas City, Mo.

The gift to the Kansas University Endowment Association comes at a time when the Department of Design is involved in an active search for new leadership.

"This grant will be instrumental in enabling us to attract excellent candidates for the position of chair of the department," said Steven K. Hedden, KU fine arts dean. Through the 2007-08 academic year, the grant will provide funding for program upgrades, a specialized graphic design program and professional travel, Hedden said.

"This extraordinary show of support by Hallmark will enable the design department to expand and improve its educational programs," said Tom Beisecker, interim chair of design. "It will provide our students with the latest technology and our faculty with vital assistance for both their teaching and research. It gives our incoming chairperson a wonderful opportunity to expand the department's mission and to enhance its local and national reputation."

The specialized graphic design program funded through the grant is called "The Arts," in which students gain real-world experience by designing materials for nonprofit clients, generally at KU. Budget cuts in the 2002-03 school year resulted in the discontinuation of the program last summer. The grant will facilitate the hiring of a full-time faculty associate with expertise in interaction design or motion graphics, areas in which the department plans to expand its curriculum.

The travel money will enable the new chair to enhance relationships between the department and the professional world. Initiatives that could be discussed range from developing and enhancing educational programs and internships to continuing education and recruitment.

"During the course of the three years the new chair will be charged with finding additional sources of revenue to provide for technology and to continue 'The Arts,'" Hedden said.

"Over the years, KU design graduates have been integral to Hallmark's ability to provide the most creative products to customers," said Karen W. Bartz, community development manager for Hallmark, in announcing the grant. "We look forward to continuing our partnership for the benefit of the university, your students and our company."

Hallmark and the Hallmark Corporate Foundation have provided support for a wide variety of programs at the Department of Design, including aid for faculty development and research. Through Hallmark, new initiatives and projects, individual research and endeavors that benefit the department, faculty and students have been made possible.

Since 1989, the foundation has funded the Department of Design's Hallmark Symposium Series, which brings in nationally and internationally known designers, artists and educators 14 times each academic year. Such continuing support for the series has enhanced the national recognition of the design programs at KU and greatly aided in the recruitment of students and faculty.

The Department of Design is one of three academic units of the KU School of Fine Arts, which also is the parent organization for the Department of Art, the Department of Music and Dance, and the Lied Center of Kansas.

The grant counts toward the goal of KU First: Investment in Excellence, the largest fund-raising campaign in KU history. KU Endowment is conducting KU First on behalf of KU through 2004 to raise funds for scholarships, fellowships, professorships, capital projects and program support. KU Endowment is an independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fund-raising and fund-management organization for KU.

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