Professor Emeritus Judith Moldenhauer Endows Graphic Design Student Travel Scholarship

In May 2022, Professor Emeritus Judith Moldenhauer retired from an outstanding career at WSU. In 1990, Professor Moldenhauer joined the faculty in the Department of Art and Art History as a Visiting Assistant Professor. She immediately developed a Graphic Design program to replace what was then the Advertising area. In 1992, she was hired as a tenure-track Assistant Professor and Area Coordinator for Graphic Design.

Moldenhauer's teaching and research has been multi-dimensional and deeply interdisciplinary in nature, regularly bringing together the sciences, humanities, and the arts. She has created the Moldenhauer Graphic Design International Travel Endowed Support Fund to commemorate her outstanding career of international recognition and interdisciplinary practice.

Teaching legacy: a solid design foundation and a push for innovation

Moldenhauer provided the department with a thoughtfully constructed graphic design curriculum with the depth and breathe to remain relevant through 3 decades of change in the field. Her pedagogical approach exists centrally at the intersection of theory and practice, which is necessary to provide students with a world-class, contemporary graphic design education.

She brought together traditional practices and innovative approaches to create caring designers who use visual communication that helps people see or do things in new ways. "My courses have broadened students' sense of what graphic design is and can do," she says. "I provide them with a solid foundation of knowledge and skills for the field, while addressing changes in technology, the professional landscape, and cultural or social issues." Her coursework focused on design history, research methods, ideation strategies, manual and digital skills. Her coursework was always complimented by supportive and constructive critique. "By finding ways to combine their interests, values, and activities with their passion for design," she adds, "students can discover many opportunities to create designs that can impact the world around them."

As many of her students will attest, Moldenhauer ensured that her students left her classes with the ability to create work that looks great, is meaningful and personal, and conceptually strong. For example, in one assignment, students focused on experimenting with the visualization of sounds to create an imaginary "27th letter" for the English language in their choice of typeface. Assignments like this teach students how the expressive qualities of type can impact the meaning of words. In another assignment, students utilized information about a personal, everyday event in their lives to become text for a design project that taught visual hierarchy and composition. Assignments like this provided meaningful context for learning basic design principles. In more advanced courses, students added elements of sculpture, spatial relationships, and motion to create compelling and interactive 3D and 4D expressions of type and composition. These exercises teach students to challenge assumptions of graphic design being only a 2D design method.

Advocating for human-centered information design and interdisciplinarity

At the heart of Moldenhauer's passion for design is to improve people's everyday experiences. This is best exemplified in her work as an information designer. "The role of information design is to help people easily find, understand, and use information such as instructions, maps, forms, and signage," she says. "As information designers, we also work to make complex data accessible, meaningful, and appropriate for the people who use it and need it." Under her guidance, students developed accessible designs for medicine labeling, site maps, instructions, signage, forms, and scientific results. Students regularly took these designs and tested them with users. This approach has given the graphic design program a competitive edge. "By teaching user-centered information design that is focused on helping people get to places and do things, I provide students with an educational opportunity that does not exist in many other graphic design programs in the U.S." she says.

As an information designer, Moldenhauer has most notably connected the graphic design area at WSU to the humanities and the sciences. For example, from 2000-03 she was principal investigator for a U.S. Department of Education Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grant, along with researchers from University of Michigan and Michigan State. The project entitled "Seeing the Body Elsewise: Connecting the Humanities" examined how the body has been visualized across time and across cultures. From 2003-06 she was principal investigator for another US/EU FIPSE grant, "Development of International Core Competencies and Student Faculty Exchange in Information Design." This grant enabled WSU design students to study at the Bauhaus University in Germany, Utrecht School of Art in The Netherlands, and Mälardalen University in Sweden and students from the schools in the Netherlands and Germany to study with Moldenhauer at WSU.

Support for scientists

Through WSU Graduate School's professional development program, Moldenhauer worked with graduate students in the sciences, teaching them the fundamentals of visualizing scientific information. These students created diagrams about their research data while learning visual principles and visual organizational strategies. From 2013-18, Moldenhauer was co-investigator and steering committee member of the WSU Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training Program (BEST) which was funded through a $1.2 million grant awarded from the National Institutes for Health (NIH), which provided support for doctoral students, primarily in biomedical sciences, who wanted to pursue careers outside of academia. She and the other investigators developed workshop sessions for biomedical and other graduate students to hear from individuals whose career paths combined science with business, communication, government, and law.

Moldenhauer has participated in both national and local scientific collaborations. For example, she was part of the Translation Research Team in the Administrative core for National Institute of Environmental Health (NIEHS) P42 Superfund grant proposal, "Center for Leadership in Environmental Awareness and Research (CLEAR)," that addressed the impact of volatile organic compounds in water and that vaporize into the basements of homes and buildings in Detroit. She was also part of the Detroit Integrated Vision for Environmental Science through Science and Engagement (D•VERSE) research team that studied asthma in Detroit teens, for which she designed the personal air monitor instruction booklet and one of three asthma diaries used by the teens in the study. These are just a few examples of Moldenhauer tremendous effort to put WSU on the map as a leading university in the study of human-centered information design and the role of design in supporting the sciences, and scientists.

A strong commitment to service, to the department and beyond

Moldenhauer is also known for her extensive service to the department, CFPCA, and the university. She brought a unique set of skills that were essential to many aspects of departmental and university operations: combining her knowledge of university policies and procedures, her deep understanding of WSU's community and culture, and her skills as a graphic and information designer to her service work.

She contributed extensive design work for various initiatives, ranging from campus promotions and events, to forms and instructions explaining policies and procedures. Her role on the WSU Academic Restart Committee was instrumental. She designed materials related to the pandemic including "Guidelines: A response to COVID-19." The document provided the steps to physically return to campus, resources for student tech support, and resources for online teaching. She also designed over 50 announcements as part of her work with the WSU First Day Inclusive Access Committee, to make digital course materials available to students through Canvas.

Moldenhauer also regularly used her skills to promote events on campus, helping to build a sense of culture and community. She designed the visual identity, website, and posters for lectures for the WSU Yamasaki Legacy Project from 2010-2011 and designed the visual identity and all of the promotional materials for the 2017 WSU Presidential Symposium and accompanying art exhibition entitled "Seeing is Understanding: Visualizing Ideas - The Interaction between Science, Art, and Design."

Moldenhauer held the positions of Undergraduate Officer, chairing the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee that oversees all curriculum and programmatic initiatives in the Department. She was the Assessment Coordinator for CFPCA and a member of the University Assessment Council and designed both the WSU Assessment Handbooks and the assessment materials for the BFA in Design. Additionally, she held the position of Interim Associate Dean from 2011-2015. In this role, she mentored colleagues in CFPCA and has contributed countless hours to reviewing and editing grant proposals and presented at workshops on grant writing in the arts. She served on countless department and college committees and search committees over the years, including the WSU Big Data Interdisciplinary - Arts and Humanities search committee.

In 2018-19, Moldenhauer received the Murray Jackson Creative Scholar in Arts to restore a Vandercook 325 flat-bed letterpress which established letterpress at WSU for hand-set metal type and the production of printed materials. Visiting artists came to campus to demonstrate specialized press techniques and the process of wood engraving. Three students presented their work at 2019 at the 7th International Conference on Typography and Visual Communication Conference in Patras, Greece and others received undergraduate research grants for their work. Letterpress is a growing trend in the field of graphic design and Moldenhauer brought interest and energy to the department through this work.

Supporting international exposure for graphic design students

Throughout her career, Moldenhauer has emphasized the importance of international connections for students and has done so in a number of important ways. She developed contacts with other academic institutions, provided opportunities for students to attend conferences and visit design studios, collaborated on design projects with students in other countries, and brought distinguished international graphic and typographic designers to the WSU campus. Through all of these efforts and more, she continually emphasized how international opportunities broaden students' understanding of design and inspire creativity through interacting with people worldwide.

Moldenhauer's international experience includes a Fulbright Fellowship to Sweden. She conducted typographic design research in Germany, England, Italy, and Switzerland and an information design research project in Turkey. Over the course of her career, she has presented at conferences all over the world including Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, England, Greece, India, and Sweden. Her designs have been included in several traveling international exhibitions. She is also a Fellow of the Communication Research Institute (Australia) and a member of the International Institute for Information Design (Austria) and the Design Research Society (England).

The impact of Moldenhauer's career at WSU will continue to endure and she has great hopes for the next generations of graphic designers. "Given the work I have seen produced in my classes," she says, "I have great hope for the future of visual communication and my students' ability to help us better understand each other in our amazingly complex and diverse world."

Moldenhauer has generously established a new scholarship fund for international travel and study: the Moldenhauer Graphic Design International Travel Endowed Support Fund. The scholarship will provide much needed support for undergraduate and graduate WSU Graphic Design students' participation in international educational experiences. Applications for the scholarship will be available beginning Fall semester 2022.

How to contribute to the Moldenhauer Graphic Design International Travel Endowed Support Fund:

You can support WSU Graphic Design students by making a gift at

Your gift will be matched up to $10,000 by an anonymous donor. April Hazamy, Major Gift Officer at the College of Fine, Performing and Communications Arts, can answer any questions you may have. She can be reached at or 313-577-0277.

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