Poly graphics chief Harvey Levenson is retiring

Cal Poly’s longest-serving department chair will retire in June, but he’s not planning on going far.

“I like to tell people, I’m retiring from the state of California, not my profession,” Harvey Levenson, chair of the university’s Graphic Communication Department, said Friday.

After 30 years at the university, Levenson said that he felt the “time was right to retire,” considering his wife, Barbara, who has been a pharmacist for 27 years at Atascadero State Hospital, will also be retiring this year.

“It seemed like a good idea to retire at the same time,” Levenson said.

Graphic communication professor Kenneth Macro, who has worked at Cal Poly since 2000, will succeed him as department chair. But Levenson will continue to help out with the department’s Graphic Communication Institute — an outreach effort that provides industry members with access to Cal Poly resources, faculty and students.

Levenson came to Cal Poly in 1983, after founding the La Roche College Division of Graphics, Design and Communication in Pittsburgh. Before that, he served as the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation’s associate director of technology.

Under his direction, the Graphic Communication Department has become a leader in graphic communications, Levenson said, with more than 33,000 square feet of lab space, and numerous industry connections — including links to Adobe, Apple and Dow Jones.

A major factor in the success of the department has been the caliber of students and faculty he’s had the chance to work with, Levenson said.

The Graphic Communication Advisory Board has also created the Dr. Harvey R. Levenson Excellence in Graphic Communication Endowment to thank Levenson for his work, board chair Sharon Eucce said. Eucce also works in sales and marketing for Utah Paperbox: Custom Packaging.

“He’s really good at making connections, which in the end is really good for students and the value of their degrees,” Eucce said of Levenson. “He’s been a one-man promotion for the department — a man of action.”

In its first year, the endowment will provide about $750 in scholarship funds to a student who has a distinct prospect of “achieving a successful graphic communication career,” Eucce said. Some funds will also go to growing the department.

Macro, who will take over for Levenson as department chair in June, said he hopes to continue his legacy of growth.

“(Levenson) is an icon in the graphic communication industry, and I can only aspire to achieve the level of greatness that he has brought to the Graphic Communication Department,” Macro said. “All of us in the department are proud of his accomplishments, and are excited to continue building upon what he has built. We wish him well in his retirement. He certainly deserves it.”