Media Arts, Design, and Technology Department

Faculty Spotlight

Michael Hayes

professor Michael Hayes

Michael Hayes' life has been a remarkable journey filled with unique experiences. Raised in a military family, he traversed the United States alongside his father's army assignments, spending his formative years in Germany before returning to California after high school, where he has made his home ever since.

Upon his return to the States, Hayes embarked on his academic pursuits, earning a degree in Computer Science with a minor in Business from Chico State. It was during his time at the university that he delved into the world of design through various side projects, ultimately securing a position at a local design firm upon graduation. Thus began his ascent in the field.

Reflecting on his career trajectory, Hayes shared insights into his diverse professional roles: "In Graphic Arts, I've traversed multiple domains, from design firms and in-house design roles to the vendor side. I've troubleshooted digital files at a commercial printer, educated customers, managed design projects and vendors, and served as a Creative Director. Over the years, I've also steered my own business, wearing many hats to keep operations running smoothly."

After two decades of honing his skills in design, Hayes transitioned to academia, joining Butte College as a lecturer in Basic Web Design. His commitment to excellence in teaching soon caught the attention of Chico State, where his wealth of experience and teaching credentials from Butte led to his recruitment.

At Chico State University, Hayes has distinguished himself as a hands-on educator with a keen business perspective. His teaching philosophy revolves around the practical application of course material to students' future professional endeavors. Over the past decade, he has not only taught Basic Web Design but has also expanded his portfolio to include courses such as Design Thinking.

For Hayes, the true essence of teaching lies in those invaluable moments of connection with students. "My favorite aspect of teaching at Chico State is witnessing the breakthroughs when students grasp challenging concepts. Engaging in meaningful conversations that culminate in newfound understanding is incredibly fulfilling," he shared.

His preferred teaching method involves fostering dialogue and guiding students through the design process, allowing them to discover insights and have their "ah-ha" moments. This approach not only enables students to grasp concepts effectively but also encourages critical thinking and self-discovery.

Offering advice to future Digital Design students, Hayes emphasizes the importance of gaining hands-on experience both inside and outside the classroom. "It's all about experiential learning," he asserts. "Discovering how to apply principles of good graphic design in real-world scenarios is immensely gratifying and lays the foundation for a successful career."