Posting Date: May 9, 2012


Jeanne Sperry retires from KSU Visual Arts Department

Sperry designed the KSU owl logo


By Shira Zobrist


Jeanne Sperry has been interested in graphic design for as long as she can remember. She sold her first drawing when she was five years old, and she has never looked back. Now an associate professor of art specializing in graphic design and illustration, Sperry has been teaching in Kennesaw State University’s Visual Arts Department for 17 years. When she retires at the end of the 2011-2012 academic year, she will be missed by faculty, staff and students throughout the campus.


Sperry’s relationship with KSU began many years ago when she worked in graphic design in the Office of University Relations. While there, Sperry designed the ubiquitous KSU logo featuring the KSU owl mascot. “It is very rewarding to see my work everywhere throughout campus,” Sperry explains. “I’ve been fortunate to be involved at KSU for a long time.”


More recently, Sperry has been focusing her efforts at KSU on teaching classes in the Visual Arts Department and helping students grow as graphic designers. “Teaching is all about the students,” Sperry says. “They are the ones who make it enjoyable and rewarding, and I enjoy watching them grow and become more independent.” Much of this growth occurs in what Sperry calls her hallmark class, Design Strategies and Presentation, a class that prepares her students for real life. “The entire class is hands-on learning, working for real-world companies and organizations,” Sperry explains. “The quality of work in this class is always high and it builds a bridge between the university’s students and the community around us.”


Sperry hopes that her graphic design students come away from her classes with a sense of responsibility for the clients they work for. “As a graphic designer, you further the business of your clients and increase visibility,” Sperry says. “You help to keep people employed.”


In addition to teaching graphic design, Sperry also has years of experience as a professional in the field. She owns a full-time advertising agency, Cherokee Red, which she plans to continue after her retirement from teaching. She feels that her experiences as a teacher and as a graphic design professional have been mutually beneficial. “My experience in advertising has helped me as a teacher and brought strength to our graphic design program,” Sperry says. “At the same time, my experiences as a teacher have helped me as a graphic designer.”


Both Sperry’s colleagues and students regard her as an immense asset to the department. Diana Gregory, associate professor of art education, has worked with Sperry on several special projects, and describes her as “wonderfully funny and a delight to work with.” Gregory explains, “She has a real passion and devotion to student learning outcomes, and I will miss her energy.” Michelle Landrein, a senior graphic communications major, says Sperry is a unique professor who is at times brutally honest. “Professor Sperry has always pushed me to go beyond what I feel I’m capable of,” Landrein explains. “She is not afraid to tell it like it is, which in the end wields the most success from her students.”


As Sperry prepares to retire, she is considering continuing to teach on a part-time basis. She will also continue with Cherokee Red and may do graphic design work for several non-profit organizations. As she explains, “I love to design and it doesn’t feel like work to me. I am so blessed to be able to do what I love for my entire life.”



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