Print Shop Closes After 50 Years

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Andy Murphy and Joe O’Connor in the Print Shop in 1996.

Have you noticed bright posters announcing speakers hung around campus? Or perhaps read a program at an HDA performance? Well, those all came from a little-noticed space on the ground floor of Coy dormitory: the Print Shop. Due to the service’s reduced demand, after over half a century, the school has decided to permanently shut down the Print Shop in June 2021. 

The Print Shop has completed many different projects over the years, providing the community with accessible printing since before such services were available online. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, many groups that normally used the Print Shop no longer needed its services. For example, large in-person theater, dance, and music performances have been altered for the 2020-21 school year and Alumni and Admissions events have been conducted virtually. The school’s controller, Melissa Woodin, said, “As the school becomes more environmentally conscious and utilizes electronic delivery of media, there has been less need for such a service. While the convenience and special care that comes with having an internal print shop is priceless, we simply do not have enough work to keep the Print Shop busy.” In the future, the school will outsource printing to local presses. 

The Print Shop was first established in the late 1960s by Tom McGivern, former manager of auxiliary services. It started out with a black-and-white Heidelberg press. Since then, the Print Shop has undergone many improvements, including progressing from black-and-white printing to adding blue ink for the school color, and then eventually to full-color printing as demand increased. In addition, it transitioned from offset printing, which uses metal printing plates to roll ink onto paper, to digital printing, a more efficient procedure that transfers the ink to paper without printing plates.

 Mr. Joe O’Connor, current manager of auxiliary services, has worked at the Print Shop for 35 years along with Mr. Andrew Murphy, who has worked for 27 years as assistant to the press. Mr. Murphy said, “[Working at a print shop] is something I’ve always wanted to do since I was a little kid. When I was ten years old, I used to go to print shops just to see the presses running. I always wanted to do it, so my dream was fulfilled when I came here. But it’s time for a new chapter in my life.”

One of the Print Shop’s primary jobs has been to provide materials for the Alumni Office. The school community also used it for other projects, including posters, programs for concerts and plays, Humanities readers, Commencement programs, and student publications. Until 2000, it also published The Record, but because the publication wished to print out issues using high-tech printers, the newspaper outsourced its production to a larger press, Trumbull printing. Mr. Reed, instructor in English and theatre, said, “The Theatre Department will sorely feel the loss of the Print Shop. Andy and Joe completed all our requests quickly, cheerfully, and with impressive quality. For many productions, they were with us throughout the entire process: scripts to programs to photographs, many of which now hang in the Walker Lobby…we were very disappointed to learn of the School’s decision.”

While the school’s decision to outsource its printing may have some benefits, it will also deprive the community of the Print Shop’s convenience, speed, and accessibility. Since the Print Shop solely served the school community, while off-campus presses have other customers, large-scale projects were delivered more swiftly. Mr. O’Connor said, “I do think that one of the things [people are] going to miss is the speed. We’re really a quick-print shop. [For example], we will get a play program [design] maybe mid-morning on a Friday, and usually the program [is distributed] that evening. So, [for] jobs like that, they’ll have to plan a little bit differently…moving forward.”

The closing of the Print Shop ends the tenure of a long-running facility. Mr. Murphy said, “I enjoyed working with the students, and the faculty, and customers in general – and [I have] formed a bond and a relationship with people. I like the human aspect of it. That’s what I’ll miss.”

Mr. O’Connor will continue as manager of auxiliary services, while Mr. Murphy will move into the housekeeping department.