Case study // Salt Lake Community College

Celebrating 75 years of Academic Diversity

“Working with all of you at ECHO was a great partnership; we are proud to have chronicled SLCC’s history in such a significant and beautiful book. Michael Navarre and I were laughing yesterday thinking back to the beginning when we debated creating and producing an anniversary book in-house! It certainly has been our professional pleasure to work with you and learn from your expertise and talent. You have cultivated a remarkable group of professionals who were lovely to work with throughout the entire book process. Our deepest thanks.”
— Alison McFarlane, VP for Institutional Advancement & Co-Chair of the 75th Anniversary Book Committee, Salt Lake Community College

THE OBJECTIVE: Chronicling the extraordinary evolution of a Utah college system

We are big champions of a good school story at ECHO, and this is a new addition we adore.

On September 14, 1948, Salt Lake Community College (then known as Salt Lake Area Vocational School) opened its doors to 246 students near downtown Salt Lake City, starting with 16 courses of study and 23 faculty members. Seventy-five years later, it has become the state’s largest college with the most diverse student body, serving more than 60,000 students of all ages and interests across 10 campuses. Check out SLCC’s 75-year anniversary microsite here.

SLCC Student Center, 1949

In the spring of 2021, we partnered with SLCC, making for another Utah-based friendship since our collaboration with Easton Archery. We were honored to be invited to help mark the 75-year milestone and the school’s impressive growth by creating a beautiful account of its rich history, with the goal of lifting up voices from its diverse community of students, faculty, and staff.

Too, rather than just reprinting them, we were tasked with ensuring the stories (which we found in spades) show how central the school’s values are to the student and staff experience. Learning, inclusivity, collaboration, community — the book is full of examples of those guiding principles … from day one to today.

Now we just had to figure out how to fit all that history and integrity into a book whose design brief was to be open, expansive, and spare.

THE APPROACH: A book that radiates “A College for Everyone” with pride

What makes SLCC unique and so treasured, not just among students, faculty, staff, and alumni, but by the city and state as well?

To tell this story, ECHO and SLCC’s book committee agreed on a richly illustrated coffee table book that would pay tribute to the college’s commitment to inclusive and transformative higher education, as well as the democratization of education itself. Inside, the book is a visual feast, combining SLCC’s vibrant blue and yellow with a mix of archival and contemporary photography, and big, bold graphic treatments.

A student celebrating SLCC’s LGBTQ Pride Parade, 2019

While there are many amazing stories to tell, we wanted to be sure the book was easily accessible from any entry point. Written in a tone that sets a vision for the decades to come, the book hopes to provide donors, the internal college community, and the community at large with a clear and compelling appreciation of the positive impact SLCC has had on Salt Lake City over the past 75 years.

THE LESSON: How to stick to the schedule like Swiss watchmakers

As we’ve touched on before, when it comes to commemorative books of all kinds, a clear, shared understanding of a project’s scope and deadlines is absolutely essential, especially when an anniversary event is counting on the availability of books to gift to donors, partners, faculty, and staff! We had 18 months to get copies of this book in hand, and both parties worked diligently to meet this goal. Significant to the success of this publication is the fact that we worked closely with SLCC’s internal book committee, establishing an easy rhythm among all the players early in the game.

All in all, this book is a stellar example of what happens when all parties commit to the schedule and how an iterative, collaborative approach enhances a project and the client experience along the way. What made it all possible was a seamless collaboration with a team that:

1) was crystal clear on their vision
2) was highly responsive and organized
3) had a dedicated archivist partner to pick out the best images from their extensive collection

Calling for more lovely clients from Utah, and more school stories, please!


A fun fact about this book? The making of its cover! Focusing on student learning opportunities, much like our client, ECHO collaborated with junior designer and former SLCC student Alex Martinez to create the cover of the book. The result? Exactly what SLCC had hoped for — a clean and sophisticated cover balancing out the bold and bright interior, and creating a timeless look to live long beyond their 75th year.