Advertising & Graphic Design professor Jim Lutz named Professor Emeritus


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When students in Columbus College of Art & Design Advertising & Graphic Design Professor Jim Lutz’s Advanced Design Concepts classes were asked what part of his course they would change, their responses were strikingly similar:


Honestly, none of it! It was such a blast in this class.


None of it.

To hear from his colleagues, student comments like that are part of a pattern of Lutz’s excellence as an educator and an individual. Lutz, who will retire from CCAD at the end of the 2021–22 academic year, was nominated for recognition as Professor Emeritus by Animation and Game Art & Design Chair Charlotte Belland and Master of Fine Arts Chair Kelly Malec-Kosak.

AdGraph professor has a “legacy of kindness”

In their nomination letter, Belland and Malec-Kosak wrote, “When we let other faculty know we wanted to nominate Jim, the universal response was: ‘Jim is the nicest guy—we are going to miss him so much!’ As a colleague, Jim is appreciated in a way that is unparalleled.”

Dean of Undergraduate Studies Tom Gattis called Lutz “a very generous individual (who) often tells me and others how much he values us and how much he has learned from us.”

He became a full-time faculty member in 2007, rising to be a full professor in 2020. Over that period, noted Gattis, Lutz “shaped the Advertising & Graphic Design program, wrote curriculum, and taught nearly all the classes. He served as a program chair for three years and has served on numerous promotion committees, search committees, and institutional committees. Whenever CCAD asked, he has stepped up,” wrote Gattis.

Fashion Design Chair Suzanne Cotton got to know Lutz when they were both gaining their footing as department chairs. Lutz’s “thoughtfulness and love of his students and CCAD in general really impressed me,” she wrote.

Belland and Malec-Kosak wrote that Lutz “proved himself invaluable yet again as the college pivoted during the pandemic in the spring of 2020.” Advertising & Graphic Design Chair Josh Bodman wrote that Lutz—nominated for CCAD’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2021—“is being recognized as showing empathy and spending extra time after class and meeting with the students where they are. During the pandemic he seeks new ways to connect with students.” 

Advertising & Graphic Design Associate Professor Matthew Mohr said of Lutz, “In 32 years of teaching, Jim has made every student he taught a better designer and a better person. There is no doubt his legacy of kindness matched with his skill has touched untold millions nationwide and worldwide through the work his former students have produced.”

And as to those student evaluations, well, Belland and Malec-Kosak say they agree wholeheartedly, writing in their nomination: “Same, students. There is nothing we would change about working with Jim Lutz. He will be truly missed by our community, and we are honored to write this letter in support of his legacy.”

Lutz in his own words

Lutz, a Columbus native, says that as a teen, he loved art and design, but feared he wasn’t good enough—until his high school art teacher recommended him for a CCAD scholarship. After graduating from CCAD in 1978, Lutz worked for advertising agencies and design studios, both large and small. He started at CCAD as an adjunct around 1988, and taught a class or two for about 18 years before joining the school full-time. Lutz also started his own design practice 25 years ago—and still maintains a few clients today.

Outside of work, Lutz enjoys photography (digital, film, and drone), yard work, gardening, and hiking. He loves to read, study, and “hopefully learn something new every day.” His wife retired a little over a year ago, and he hopes to spend more time with her in retirement, as well as continue to do some client or volunteer work, to travel, and to spend more time with friends and family. 

Below, Lutz discussed the evolution of advertising and graphic design—and CCAD’s education—over the years.

How has the field of advertising and graphic design evolved over the years?
We currently live in a world of pop-up ads and robocalls. Consumers have become desensitized to online noise and over-communication. Our challenge is to communicate with our target audiences with understanding and empathy. Our strategy is to be honest and thoughtful if we’re to earn audiences’ trust.

And of course there are a myriad number of communication channels (many of which we didn’t have even a few years ago).

What has changed in terms of teaching advertising and graphic design?
We have so many different career paths for students to choose from. Even though we have the same AdGraph diploma from CCAD, we may have two or three areas of concentration or specialties within the major.

Students are also encouraged to have at least one or two internships or co-op experiences to better learn how their interests and skills align with different companies. CCAD’s sponsored corporate projects have also been excellent opportunities to work with clients before graduating. Our students are also better prepared when they have the opportunity to collaborate and connect with CCAD’s various majors.

How has CCAD changed in the time since you first arrived here? What has stayed the same?
The field of advertising and graphic design is very different from just a few years ago. Only the fundamentals have stayed the same—principles of design, research, and critical thinking skills. The iterative thinking and design process is more intense and requires deeper research and proof-of-concept testing.

Since there are so many ways to reach an audience, the approach is both empathetic as well as surgical and data-driven.

How have CCAD students changed in the decades since you first arrived here? What has stayed the same? 
I have noticed that our current generation of students are very concerned about the environment and our planet overall. Students are also interested in doing ethical work as well as working with companies with integrity. 

What has stayed the same is the creative thinking and design passion that draws students to CCAD. Most of us share our love for fine arts and personal work as a way to recharge our creative souls.

What do you love about your work?
Almost everything. It’s a joy to work with creative students and watch them grow and develop so quickly over 16 weeks. 

What will you most miss about CCAD?
I’ll miss everything about CCAD: the students, the faculty and staff, and just being in the presence of so many creative and interesting people. I have my second family here—a great community of friends that I’ll miss.

Find Jim Lutz on LinkedIn. Learn more about Advertising & Graphic Design at CCAD or apply here.