Animation program ranked No. 16 in Midwest

GVL / Robert Mathews
A Grand Valley Mac outfitted with Adobe Creative Suites

Robert Mathews

GVL / Robert Mathews A Grand Valley Mac outfitted with Adobe Creative Suites

Stephanie Allen

Grand Valley State University’s film and video program has a new reason to attract perspective students.

The Animation Career Review ranked GVSU’s animation program No. 16 out of the 20 best Midwest schools, placing higher than the University of Michigan at No. 19 and Kendall College of Art and Design at No. 17.

Michigan State University was the only other Michigan school to place, at No. 10. “Having our program recognized in this manner is an honor,” said Deanna Morse, animation professor. “It is a tribute to the full-time faculty, the staff, and also our many adjuncts who are committed to quality teaching and learning.”

Animation Career Review ranked the programs by looking through professional reviews of schools around the nation, such as The Princeton Review, interviewing professionals in the field and based on several criteria including curriculum, faculty, internship opportunity, location, campus life, and tuition.

The article lists GVSU being ranked for its liberal arts degree and abundance of student access to equipment, faculty and opportunities.

“I’m glad that the article recognizes the liberal arts degree – it’s not an art school,” said Toni Perrine, film and video associate director. “We have really good hands-on opportunities for students.”

She said having the program within the School of Communications helps students get a well-rounded educational base with a specific degree focus.

“The students really get a very strong emphasis in film and video,” Perrine said.

Animation student Keren-happuch Benavides was shocked GVSU ranked higher than UofM and Kendall. “It’s neat knowing we beat Kendall and UofM, there’s some friendly competition,” Benavides said.

Because the article ranked schools based on tuition too, Perrine said it could’ve helped push GVSU one spot higher than Kendall, which costs almost $1,000 more to attend per year. She said it’s more of a bargain for students who are still looking for a comprehensive education.

Film and video students apply to enter the program after passing several prerequisites. Perrine said the selective entry helps to yield the most talented and dedicated students.

And GVSU has many film and video alumni who have created successful careers, including John Willette and David Burton, who were nominated for an Oscar for their special effects work on “Castaway,” and Greg Colton, who received an Emmy for directing the TV show, “Family Guy.”

While teaching, Morse continues to create animation art and can see, and help teach the changing animation skills needed to have a successful career, “Because there is only one certain thing in this ‘evolution of animation education,’ we have not reached a plateau. The change continues.”

She said the focus in teaching animation has been discussed amongst educators over the past few years, and she has created an idea of the type of education students need.

“For the long term, what we really want to model – and teach – are some basic skills that have nothing really to do with our discipline,” Morse said. “To teach students how to learn, how to adapt, how to ask good questions, how to analyze and be critical, how to be introspective, how to think outside the box. To have a knowledge of the past and present with an enthusiastic curiosity and a willingness to embrace change. To be respectful of others and our planet. To work for what is good, to work to leave the world a better place.”
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