During the summer of 1996, Carmen Cusmano started working at Yale Printing and Publishing (YPPS), running the presses. Back then, YPPS was located in the basement of 155 Whitney Avenue. Before coming to Yale, Carmen had worked at Lehman Brothers doing engraving.
In the eighteen years Carmen has been with YPPS, he’s become a jack-of-all-trades. He’s gone from working as a pressman, to supervising a pressroom, to purchasing paper stock for the operations, to his current position of Outsource Services Coordinator dealing with a larger variety of items—from clothing, to pennants and trophies.
“Printing has changed dramatically in the past 2 decades,” says Carmen. Everything has gotten faster; turnaround for projects has gone from 30 days down to 5. Proofs are now available within 24 hours where before it took a week. With an increasing movement toward digital methods of printing, negatives are no longer necessary—the printing process has increasingly become simplified. “It’s amazing how much has changed,” says Carmen.
While many articles, books, and magazines are found online, the art of conventional printing on paper still exists. Carmen has seen numerous publications go exclusively online only to return to print. This decision often prompted by the fact that they weren’t reaching their audience in the same way because their publications were best read in print rather than online.
Every May, Carmen is tasked with overseeing what he would argue is the most important project that YPPS does each year; the printing of over 18,000 commencement programs and over 3,000 diplomas. In addition to many items associated with graduation such as residential college pennants and baseball caps.
During the week leading up to commencement, staff from Yale’s Office of the Secretary visits YPPS and verifies every single name on the commencement program. “It’s a very stressful time—but it’s worthwhile because this is what it’s all about,” says Carmen.
Carmen is on call all weekend long to make sure any last minute changes to the commencement program, such as the names of honorary degree recipients are executed correctly. At 7 a.m. on commencement morning, he meets the truck that delivers all the programs to Phelps Gate and remains on site during the graduation ceremony. “I like to be there for it—it’s a special ceremony and being a part of it in any way is very rewarding.”
YPPS provides services for important bookends to Yale students, printing over 75,000 undergraduate admissions view books a year for future Yalies and later printing the high quality ephemera they will cherish for decades like the commencement and baccalaureate programs. “Printing will never go away—it’s a form of artistic expression,” says Carmen.
On being part of the YPPS team, Carmen said, “we have a great group—it’s like a family, I love doing what I do, if you don’t like what you are doing, you need to find your niche and follow your dreams. I’m lucky.”