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Student-run print firm wins FSC certification

July 23, 2008

Student-run print firm wins FSC certification
Cal Poly’s student operated and managed printing and publishing company, University Graphic Systems, was recently awarded Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. Cal Poly, in San Luis Obispo, CA, USA, is one of only two university printing facilities to have received this distinction.
The certification is issued by the SmartWood program of the Rainforest Alliance. The FSC is the internationally recognized standard-setting organization that accredits and monitors forestry certifiers worldwide.
Founded in 1968, University Graphic Systems (UGS) is the only company of its kind run entirely by students. Ken Macro serves as faculty advisor to UGS, which offers Cal Poly graphic communication students the opportunity to learn all facets of printing and publishing, from marketing and sales to estimating, costing, budgeting, production, distribution and quality control. UGS produces Cal Poly’s student newspaper, the Mustang Daily – the only university daily newspaper that is fully produced by students on campus and in full color.
UGS has a general manager and 13 managers overseeing prepress, press, postpress, Lean Manufacturing, and sustainability. Some 50 to 70 students work in marketing, selling and production. Students make all the decisions regarding marketing, sales, management and production, budgeting and financing. They are also expected to make a profit.
“UGS epitomizes Cal Poly’s ‘learn by doing’ philosophy,” said Harvey Levenson, Cal Poly Graphic Communication Department head. “UGS exposes students to real-world business situations. After graduation, our students enter industry light years ahead of their counterparts because of their UGS experience.”
When the issue of sustainability in the graphic arts industry arose several years ago, UGS began to look at its carbon footprint and appointed a sustainability manager. Once the UGS sustainability program was in place, the students applied for an FSC review. The program was awarded the Forest Stewardship Council Chain-of-Custody certification.