‘Inspired to be the best’

Kelly Bryant honored with Gerald and Emily Leischuck Endowed Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching

Published: November 19, 2018
Updated: November 20, 2018
Font Size

Article body

Kelly Bryant’s teaching philosophy is simple but effective: She encourages and motivates her students to be professional, independent and conceptual problem solvers.

It’s a philosophy she’s used for more than 19 years as a professor of graphic design in Auburn University’s College of Architecture, Design and Construction. Her work was recognized this year when she was named the recipient of The Gerald and Emily Leischuck Endowed Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching, given to two faculty members who have demonstrated effective and innovative teaching methods, along with a continuing commitment to student success through advising and mentoring.

“The most meaningful part of receiving this award is reading the letters written by students and alumni as part of my nomination,” Bryant said. “I have a teaching philosophy but reading what they said about me helped me learn more about myself.”

Bryant says she most enjoys the one-on-one interactions she has with her students, when she can help them understand what they do well and focus on that.

“I try to make design as objective as possible,” she said. “If a student hits a road block, I try to get them to frame the problem they are trying to solve. I ask them to think about their audience and the message. My students understand what they do well. I try to understand where they’re coming from and encourage them.”

As a mentor, Bryant has seen her students go on to great careers as magazine designers, publication designers, branding experts and designers in small studios and large corporations.

“When we first went over the syllabus in the beginning of advanced typography, she said ‘We must go places we haven’t gone before.’ I think this most exemplifies Professor Bryant’s teaching and the way she meets each student individually to go with them and to explore areas and help them grow and expand their minds in the classroom and beyond as they step out in their careers,” said graphic design student Will Givens.

That individual attention is part of Bryant’s teaching philosophy – to treat each student as a unique individual with a different skill level, set of strengths and interests, and then help the student to understand what they are capable of and how they can grow.

 “I can confidently assert that most, if not all, of the students in Kelly Bryant’s courses are inspired to be the best at being better,” said Vini Nathan, dean of the College of Architecture, Design and Construction.

When it comes to design, typography is Bryant’s area of focus. She studies and teaches the use of type as an art form, and she’s been recognized for her work.

She has received several teaching awards including the Silver Medal Award in Art Education from the Auburn Chapter of Tau Sigma Delta, the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Auburn Chapter of Mortar Board and the Auburn University Alumni Undergraduate Teaching Award. Her research has focused on integrating traditional forms of tactile art making with computer technology in the form of publication, identity and poster design. This research has been recognized nationally and internationally through exhibitions, books and awards. The international design magazine Uppercase 35 has a feature article on Bryant's current research titled, "Kelly Bryant: Collages and Paintings inspired by Playful Typographic Details."

The College of Architecture, Design and Construction embraces the land grant mission of Auburn University by actively seeking ways to address and anticipate the critical issues of the region, the nation, and the world. The College's highly regarded programs in architecture, industrial design, landscape architecture and construction management as well as unique off-campus programs such as Rural Studio, Urban Studio and the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Program expand the boundaries of the classroom and offer an unmatched educational experience.