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Calhoun to seek student opportunities as new Interim Dean

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

Graphic Design Professor Ken Calhoun stepped up at a time of need for the School of Communication and the Arts to fill the position of Interim Dean after the search for a new dean was put on pause. Previously, Communication Chair and Professor, Meryl Perlson, served as Interim Dean for three years.

Dean Calhoun poses for a students video project. Calhoun has been a professor at Lasell for 12 years, mostly teaching graphic design. Photo by Will Marshall

Calhoun brings a wide variety of industry experience to the position, along with 12 years of teaching at the university, which are contributing factors to his success so far in his new role. “As Chair of the Graphic Design program for many years, Ken already knows Lasell and our students,” said Perlson.“This has enabled him to hit the ground running as Interim Dean.”

Calhoun began his professional career while in college at the University of California at San Diego as a trivia writer for NTN Buzztime. He carried on as a post-graduate, and was able to grow within the company. “I became the creative director for this company, and from there I was able to manage both the writers and the visual team,” said Calhoun.

From there, he went on to work for the singer Jewel’s creative team. In this role, Calhoun was able to flourish saying, “That was a great job…I did work on her website, I did her first flash website. I did the projections for her “Spirit World Tour”, [and] I did the rear screen projections for that,” Calhoun said.

After four years of working for Jewel, Calhoun found himself in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he served as a Creative Director for a small agency, making animations and videos for fortune 500 clients. From there, Calhoun was presented with an opportunity to teach a course at Duke University, which jump-started his newfound passion for teaching.

While Calhoun has had an extensive career in communications, he did not have formal training in graphic design. “I taught myself and worked with professionals on the design side and fortunately, my partner too at the time,” said Calhoun. “She was teaching design at Duke and she kind of taught me design…I think that was kind of a secondary education, an informal one, but one that actually became more central to my professional life.”

Senior graphic design major Dylan Wilson has enjoyed several courses taught by Calhoun and appreciates how Calhoun incorporates Connected Learning. “He connects what we’re doing in the classroom to what we’ll be doing in a job,” said Wilson. “That motivates me to want to be this really great person outside of the classroom too.”

Wilson says Calhoun has been helpful in his new role as Interim Dean. “It was really when he became Dean that I was like, ‘Oh, I can talk to him about this.’ But he was willing to do this before, it’s just the title made it so much more impactful.”

Caelan Watson, senior graphic design major, met Calhoun while taking his classes on Zoom during COVID. “Even though it’s hard to facilitate a relationship over Zoom… I still felt through email correspondence… He made sure to talk to each of the students.”

Watson’s favorite part of Calhoun’s courses is the Sasquatch presentation. Each semester Calhoun allows each class to choose a day where students can listen to Calhoun give a presentation on Bigfoot. “He talked about Bigfoot and how much he believed in it. It was really funny. It was nice to take a break and also allowed us to get to know him a little bit better. Which was really, really awesome,” said Watson.

Calhoun is also an author and has written stories in The Paris Review, Tin House, and the 2011 Pen/O. Henry Prize Collection. He also published his first fiction book Black Moon in 2014.

Calhoun’s goal for his time as Interim Dean is to create additional opportunities for students in the field of communications. “I feel it is a really important part of the job description for Dean is making connections with the world beyond the campus,” said Calhoun. “So I’ve been doing a lot of networking,...Trying to create opportunities for students or to create resources for students.”


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