DENTON (UNT), Texas -- An estate gift estimated at $2.5 million from an anonymous donor will ensure that the communication design program in the University of North Texas' College of Visual Arts and Design continues to flourish under a new name, the Jack Sprague Communication Design Program, in honor of one of the college's most distinguished former faculty members.
Sprague retired from UNT in 2009 after 20 years of teaching at UNT, 14 as director of the communications design program. He now resides in Santa Fe, N.M.
"This $2.5 million gift, when endowed, will produce more than $100,000 a year in scholarships, faculty and student project support, program resources, guest lecturers and publications," said Robert Milnes, dean of the College of Visual Arts and Design. "It will lift a great program into the stratosphere."
Sprague received his master's degree in communication design and design education from Florida State University. Before joining the UNT faculty, he worked as communication design director of the Art Institute of Dallas and as a creative and art director in the advertising and design industry. Since his retirement, Sprague has worked as education director at the Smart Center Santa Fe, which helps people tap into their creativity in a variety of different fields, from cooking to fine art.
Eric Ligon, associate dean for academic and student affairs and CVAD professor, said Sprague's dedication to his students helped shape countless designers' careers.
"Jack's expectations for excellence fueled his students' academic achievements," he said. "He is a man worth honoring for his contributions to the lives and livelihoods of all his students and to the greater good of the communication design program here at UNT."
CVAD alumnus Stephen Zhang, who is now vice president and image director at Fossil Brand, said his communication design graduate studies at UNT, led by Sprague, were a critical factor in his professional success.
"Jack is a devoted and inspiring educator. He guided students to become independent thinkers, to have a worldview and to make a positive impact on the world with creativity," Zhang said. "Teaching was never his job -- it was his passion."
The communication design program name change will take effect when the fund becomes endowed. CVAD also offers the Jack Sprague Communication Design Scholarship, which helps undergraduate students continue their studies.
Sprague said he played just a part in bringing the communication design program to the distinguished level it has reached today.
"I was only a single member among a significant group of very committed and talented artists, designers, educators and students whom I greatly admire and was so fortunate to have had the opportunity to lead during a short period of time in the overall journey of the program," he said. "This could not have been done without the family of faculty, administrators and students that were part of this journey.
"I want to thank everyone for the support and love given me during my time at UNT."
Milnes said renaming the communication design program in Sprague's honor is a fitting tribute to someone who has built a talented faculty team and helped so many students succeed as professionals.
"Jack Sprague's legacy is a stellar, professional, creative and award-winning communication design program that has produced an extensive network of graduates who now influence design thinking and production throughout the world," he said.
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