Faculty Spotlight: Edwin Walker

Ruby Porter, Photos Editor

Edwin Walker, a graphic design instructor at the university, has forged a very distinct path in the Art Department.

Walker graduated with a BFA from Millikin in 1985 before attending the Rochester Institute of Technology where he earned his MFA degree in 1991. He‘s been a professor at Millikin for 21 years, holding a chair position in the art Department for 12 of them. He recently stepped down from the chair position, leaving it to Lyle Salmi, after a sabbatical in 2010.

This sabbatical seemed to be long overdue, since numerous programs through the art department were coming into action. Around 2000 or 2002, during Walkers time as chair, the department began working with the Center of Entrepreneurship to develop the Arts and Entrepreneurship program.

“It was a lot of work and a brand new program,” Walker said. “We had to figure out how to bring it into the classroom and make it more feasible.”

Despite the challenges, the program has flourished and become a selling point for the university’s art department. Walker says that the most important thing the Arts and Entrepreneurship program has brought to the department is that it allows students to market themselves and understand the value of taking risks but still be able to fail because their jobs exist in a protected environment.

These jobs, while often unpaid, have grown rapidly through the program, encompassing fully functional and operating student businesses such as Bronze Man Books, Blue Satellite, Blue Connection, Carriage House Press and most recently Ignite Studios. Ignite Studios, operating under the course description of Ad Agency, is the product of Walker’s sabbatical.

Walker says that he spent his sabbatical in 2010 focusing on personal 3D assemblage and digital work as well as writing the preliminary curriculum for a revised eight-semester plan of study to support the growing graphic design major and the possibility of Ignite Studios.

“I’m proud that we have evolved the Arts and Entrepreneurship program into everything we have,” Walker said. “But there’s a lot of work behind the scenes, that’s a large part, and the students don’t often see it.”

Without the dedication and vision of Walker and every other professor in Millikin’s art department, the students would not have such a diverse array of course options that provide them with experience in the real world. Walker believes that the art department, due to its nature, should be able to reach out to the community and show that it’s making a difference.

“It’s all [community, department, and achievement] tied together like a web,” Walker said. “Sometimes it’s apparent and sometimes it’s invisible, [but] you should see faculty making things happen.”

The professors in the art department, guided by Walker’s decisions as chair years ago, have made a difference in both the curriculum and lives of their students. Changes in the future could only prove the same.