Students create chancellor’s holiday greeting

Nancy Ballard with students Bernadette Michel and Kayleigh Shaw, who created the chosen holiday card design.


During the holiday season, sending a holiday card is a wonderful way to remind those important people in your life that you are thinking of them and wishing them a happy holiday. Indeed, these bright and cheery greetings, sent via festive cards, are certain to put friends and loved ones in the holiday spirit.

East Carolina University’s Chancellor Dr. Steve Ballard and his wife, Nancy Ballard, believe in the importance of keeping in touch with people and sending them the warmest season’s greetings with a holiday card.


The chancellor’s 2010 holiday card features an ECU die-cut snow globe.

However, the Ballards’ card is not your run-of-the-mill holiday card that can be purchased in a store.

Starting in 2006, Nancy Ballard met with Gunnar Swanson, associate professor of graphic design in the School of Art and Design, and they came up with the Chancellor’s Holiday Card Project.

As part of this project, Swanson gives his senior graphic design students the opportunity to design the Ballards’ holiday card. The students submit their design ideas, and Mrs. Ballard chooses the best representation of the holiday message.

According to Swanson, this project proceeds as any typical client project. Mrs. Ballard meets with the class about the card, shows the cards from the past, and mentions any special requests she and Dr. Ballard might have. Then, she looks through the submissions and chooses the one that she believes will best meet the university’s needs.

Cards from the past have featured art from an ECTC report card, creative snowflakes, useable gift tags, and photos of the Ballards’ puppies.

“Working with the students each year to develop the university holiday card is a delight and a privilege,” Nancy Ballard said. “The hardest part is making the selection from the many good choices. So far, every year our cards have been unique.”

This year, Mrs. Ballard wanted to combine the designs of students Bernadette Michel and Kayleigh Shaw.

Michel had the idea of illustrating ECU in a snow globe, highlighting the university’s most known landmarks—the clock tower, the cupola, the fountain, and the Pirate statue. Shaw’s idea was to use a die-cut model and to incorporate movement with Michel’s snow globe. The finished card features an ECU snow globe that actually snows when “shaken.”

In addition, this holiday card was printed at ECU’s University Printing and Graphics. Design and Imaging Manager Earlene Mills worked with the student designers to ensure the card was printed successfully, with the die-cut mechanism.

Michel and Shaw both agreed that the opportunity to design the Ballards’ holiday card was an awesome experience.

“I felt that designing the card was a great way to connect with the ECU community,” said Michel. “I love art and creating this card was amazing.”

Shaw echoed Michel’s sentiments about designing the holiday card.

“It was wonderful to design the card; we got to see the process of a client project from beginning to end,” said Shaw. “This was a great learning experience and I would encourage students to always take advantage of the opportunities that are given to them here at ECU.”

Swanson said that he incorporates client projects like this one into his classes because he wants to prepare students for their futures as graphic designers.

“This is an important experience for the students because they are working with actual clients who have actual needs,” he said. “They are presented with a real budget and real time constraints.”

Shaw and Michel also agreed that participating in client projects helps them feel more prepared for their careers as graphic designers.

“This class is all about learning how to work with clients,” said Shaw. “You learn how to present yourself and your work professionally to your clients.”

Obviously, the Chancellor’s Holiday Card Project has been quite a success that has delighted those in the Pirate community. This year’s addition of a magical holiday symbol, a snow globe with an ECU theme, promises to exude the holiday spirit.

“I just wish we could see everyone’s faces when they open the card and see their reactions,” said Michel. “I think people will be surprised and happy when they realize they can actually “shake” the globe and watch the snow fall.”

By Meagan Williford
University Marketing