Higher Education and Professional Practice Committee


Johanna Duncan-Poitier


Master Plan Amendment: Mildred Elley, Associate in Occupational Studies (A.O.S.) degree in Game Design and 3D Animation


December 16, 2005


Goals 2 and 4






Issue for Decision (Consent Agenda)


Should the Regents authorize the amendment of the master plan of Mildred Elley, Latham, New York in order for the college to offer an Associate in Occupational Studies degree program in Game Design and 3D Animation?


Reason for Consideration


          Required by State regulation.


Proposed Handling


          The question will come before the Higher Education and Professional Practice Committee at its January meeting where it will be voted on and action taken.  It will then come before the full Board at its January meeting for final action.


Procedural History


          Master plan amendment is required because this would be the college’s first associate degree program in the area of applied graphic and fine arts technologies.


Background Information


          Mildred Elley School, Inc. is a proprietary institution offering registered programs leading to the Associate in Occupational Studies (A.O.S.) degree conferred by the Board of Regents in the disciplinary areas of Business Management, Advanced Paralegal Studies, Office Technologies, Medical Assistant, and Information Technology.




          The Department has determined that the proposed program, if approved, would meet the standards for registration set forth in the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.


          It is recommended that the Board of Regents approve the amendment of the master plan of Mildred Elley, authorizing the college to offer an Associate in Occupational Studies (A.O.S.) program in Game Design and 3D Animation.  This amendment will be effective until January 31, 2007, unless the program is registered by the Department prior to that date, in which case master plan amendment shall be without term.




Information in Support of Recommendation


          The proposed Associate in Occupational Studies (A.O.S.) program was created to satisfy the demand for professionals in entry-level careers in the fields of computer game design and three-dimensional animation.  It provides for focused technological competency-based training in a rapidly growing field.  The proposed program will serve the needs of traditional students and currently employed individuals who seek to update their skills while maintaining their current employment.


          Students completing the program will demonstrate the technical skill competencies essential to entry-level positions in the field through intensive, hands-on training using industry-standard software.  The proposed program includes courses to provide students with a theoretical foundation, drawing skills, professional practices and entrepreneurship, portfolio development, and career/employment skills. The 65 credit-hour program will require four semesters of 16 to 17 credit hours per semester for completion.  Students enrolling in the proposed program will choose between the Advanced Game Design and the Advanced 3D Animation concentration. The institution undertook a rigorous peer review of the proposed program and has incorporated feedback from the peer reviewers, who were drawn from full-time faculty teaching at established New York universities.


          The institution employs a rolling admissions policy and enrolls students six times per year.  It projects that the prospective students for this program will be drawn from recent high school graduates and persons in their twenties with a strong interest in information technology and digital graphics.  Enrollment is projected to reach 50 full-time students in the initial year of the program and grow by 10-15 percent per year, to achieve 80 to 100 full-time students by the fifth year.  A relatively significant percentage of out-of-state students, ultimately approaching 20-30 percent by the fifth year, is also projected.  Additionally, it is expected that 20 to 30 non-matriculated students will take courses in this program.


          Mildred Elley has budgeted sufficient resources to support the implementation of the new program.  Faculty hired to teach in the proposed program hold appropriate degrees and have significant training and experience in the field.  Four full-time and four adjunct faculty members will teach the content core of the program. One full-time faculty member holds a master of fine arts degree; a second full-time faculty member holds a master of art degree in Art Education with an emphasis on Computer Animation.  Two additional full-time faculty members hold bachelor of arts degrees in Computer Art and in Studio Art respectively. The institution will continue to draw upon professionals from the surrounding game design and multimedia companies to add to the practical dimension of the student experience. An advisory board has been established to guide the Digital Media Arts programs.  Professionals working in the fields of game and multimedia design, traditional and new media arts, and faculty from other higher education institutions comprise the membership of the advisory board.




Graduates of the proposed program are expected to have excellent employment prospects in the fields of game design, 3D animation, and multimedia.  Graduates may be employed in a number of fields, including junior and entry-level positions in the field of game design and 3D animation (e.g., game designer, quality assurance and reporting specialist, assistant technical director, special effects modeler, character modeler, environment/level modeler, etc.), as well as in junior and entry-level positions in the fields of law enforcement (forensics modelers); litigation insurance and risk management (accident reconstruction, production of visual aides for testimony, etc.); advertising and digital video production; information technology and web design (web multimedia); medical imaging and many others.


Most persons employed in this field are employed in motion picture and video industries, advertising and related services, computer systems design and related services, software publishers, and radio and television broadcasting.  New York is one of five states with the highest concentration of workers in this occupation.  New York is also the fourth highest state in the ranking of wages for the positions.


The Department of Labor estimates the total number of persons employed in this relatively new category at 30,210 nationally, with a mean hourly wage of $27.65 and a mean annual wage of $57,520. The Albany-Schenectady-Troy Metropolitan Statistical Area indicates that wages for persons employed as Multi-Media Artists and Animators ranged from $15.77/hour and $32,802/year for entry-level employees to $33.85/hour and $70,408/year for more experienced employees.  It is also estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that the percentile wage estimates range from $18.26 to $34.01. 


The area of game design and three-dimensional animation is a rapidly growing area of employment.  Sales of game software generated more that $6 billion in 2004; average game development companies grew by 18 percent in 1997-1998 (Crosby, 2000).  The growth of subscription-based, online gaming and proliferation of multiple gaming platforms also contributes significantly to industry growth.  The International Game Developers Association estimates that 62 million households in the United States are expected to have at least one video game console by 2009 and more than $16 billion will be spent on console and PC gaming.  This represents a significant opportunity for the graduates of the program.  Given that a number of local companies work in the fields of game design and development and multimedia (Vicarious Visions, Troy, NY, a game developer and a subsidiary of Activision; Kleiser-Walszak, North Adams, MA, specializes in computer-generated images for movies; Iron Lore Entertainment, Maynard, MA, game developer; numerous Tech Valley and Greater Capital Region-based advertising, multimedia, and information technology companies, and others), there are significant employment opportunities within the local area as well as in New York City, Boston, etc. in addition to opportunities for free lance assignments.


In keeping with standard practice, the Department canvassed other institutions of higher education in the region for their views on the proposal. There was no response to the canvass.