It's often said you should thank a teacher who had an impact on you, as they are seldom aware of the profound impression they have on their students. Eric May, a former professor who had such an impact on me, passed away over the week at the age of 70.
Eric taught a variety of courses at Kent State University beginning in 1971, but was best known for his letterpress class. Long before letterpress and retro forms of printing were in vogue, Eric was a champion of the old world skills of craftsmanship, attention to detail, paper and typography. He was a gentle soul, often referred to as the Zen master of the faculty, with a quiet but very quirky sense of humor. He was the first person I ever knew to refer to an elegant piece of typography as being “tasty”. As a hyper-stressed out underclassmen struggling to learn the fundamentals of design, his voice was one of reassurance and calm, always encouraging and focused on positive reinforcement. The few instances I have had occasion to work with students and junior designers, I have strived to emulate his model of teaching and mentoring.
Eric once said “The field of visual communication is so dynamic with change, it requires that both student and teacher maintain the role of learner at all times”. This comes pretty close to describing my ideal student / teacher relationship.
If you have the chance, take a moment to Google a professor who made an impact on you. Then drop them an email to acknowledge their contribution.