Category: Quarterly Reports

Spring 2016 Quarterly Report

Time for another quarterly report. Here are some of my favorite things from magazines that landed in my mailbox between January 1 and April 1.

Favorite stories

lopateIn part it’s because I was drawn to a favorite subject, but I liked “Phillip Lopate Celebrates the Personal Essay” by Lorraine Glennon, in Columbia Magazine. I particularly liked the sidebars on six of Lopate’s recommended essayists and the art that went with them (illustrations by Dimitrios Psillos. Since the sidebars took up five pages and the story only three, the story/sidebar relationship was inverted.

“Clear Solution” by Chris Carroll (link is to a PDF; best I could do), in Terp from the University of Maryland. Carroll’s story is a rare sort of piece to find in a university magazine — the story of a public health invention that has demonstrated its effectiveness, yet been largely ignored by the public health community. Our magazines usually find a way to avoid writing about things that are not big successes. This piece performs a valuable service in getting word out about something that might save lives.

Favorite covers


Harvard Medicine goes pulp. I am especially enamored of the 5 cent cover price. Good job, illustrator Lou Brooks and design director Paul DiMattia. (You really need to check out Brooks’ website.) This was the magazine’s “adventure issue,” and that cartoon figure of the medical researcher racing out the door, beaker in hand, recurs throughout the magazine.


GW Magazine, pitching socks designed by an alum. It’s hard to see in the scan, but there’s a tiny arrow pointing to the feet that says “alumni feet,” and another that says “alumni socks, pg. 34. Clever. Art directors are Dominic Abbate and John McGlasson.


George R.R. Martin, photographed for the cover of Northwestern by Anoush Abrar.

Favorite photo


I love this picture of Jenny Brown, who runs the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. Says it all. Photo uncredited, from the Fall/Winter 2015 issue of DEMO, from Columbia College Chicago.

Favorite TOC


From Harvard Business School’s HBS Alumni Bulletin. Design by EmDash.

Favorite headline and deck cliches that need to be abolished

Alumni who “seek the truth.” Popular movie titles used as headlines. Stories about astronauts headed “The Right Stuff.” Yes, the last two are redundant.

And, slightly off topic…can we please stop writing about school colors? It’s just not that interesting. Never was, never will be.

Favorite trends

Beer stories. First the beer columnist in New Trail (University of Alberta), then “The Craft” in College of Charleston Magazine, and coming soon a craft brewer profile in Johns Hopkins Magazine. Yeah, that last one’s self-aggrandizing cheating for a Spring quarterly report. Sue me.

Dog covers. Further down you’ll see I take a shot at a dog cover. That was pretty much so I could use an image of a dog cover.

Favorite campaign donation envelope


That’s the back side of the envelope bound into Cummings Veterinary Medicine from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts. Who’s a pretty boy? You are! You are!

Favorite reason to curse Brian Doyle, again

The last two issues of Portland have included pieces by Ian Frazier and Tim Egan. Jerk.

And finally…


Cheating, Williams! Babies are cheating! I’ll let you off with a warning this time, Amy Lovett, because of this great spread on the Sol LeWitt wall drawing in the schools museum of art:



Oh, and Caroline Alumni Review? Shameless. Just shameless.


The Third Quarter 2015 UMag Report, Pt. 2

The second part of the Third Quarter 2015 UMag Report, noting what caught my eye in terms of visuals. I urge you to click on the images.

Renovations (First Old, Then New)

image114625-scol   image123551-scol
Michigan Tech Magazine

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Purdue Alumnus

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Santa Clara Magazine


Best Covers


Cummings Veterinary Medicine (Tufts). Further comment superfluous.


Hue (Fashion Institute of Technology). Simultaneously arresting and, to me, a little bit creepy, which I mean in a good way.


Best Use of Excess Resources

Cover1  Cover2

Occidental editor Dick Anderson found himself with several outstanding images from the shell collection of Dieter Cosman, so he did the sensible thing — printed magazines with alternate covers. The cover story is about the collection, so the “Collector’s Cover” blurb is a bit of a pun.


Best Photos


LMU, Professor Charles Higgins’ office, by David Zaitz.

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GW (George Washington University), professor of nursing Karen Dawn with a Haitian child, by B.D. Colen. Could a photo possibly say more about the sort of person who becomes a nurse?

Baseball Poster

St. Thomas. Not easy to get a athlete portrait that isn’t a cliche. By Mike Ekern.


Best Photo Feature

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Cornell Report, “In the Moment” by Mehrdad Zarifkar. I really don’t have much enthusiasm for commencement coverage, but if you’re going to run photos of graduation, this is how you do it. I especially love the one on the right.


Thanks for Making Me Feel Old


Stony Brook Magazine cover photo of Woodward and Bernstein. Jesus, will you look at those geezers?

The Third Quarter 2015 Umag Report, Pt. 1

Something new afoot  here.  Though I’ve not posted much to UMagazinology in the last several weeks, I have been paying attention to our lively niche and here is the first of a forthcoming series of quarterly reports on what caught my eye among all the magazines that landed in my mailbox from June 1 to September 1. Call it the Third Quarter 2015 UMag Report. Part 1 deals with text. As for you image people, please wait behind the orange cone.

Best Short Pieces

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Tiny House, Big Ideas” by Amy Scheer, The Classic (Northwestern College in Iowa).

“Once you enter the Plummers’ home, a mere six to eight steps will get you from the front door to the back wall. There, a yellow door with a rectangle of chalboard paint opens to the bathroom, where a bucket with pine shaving acts as a composting toilet. The bathroom is right off the cheery kitchen, with sits under an 8-by8-foot loft with a mattress. A nearby folding table has multiple functions: storage, additional counter space and — if you pull up the only chairs in sight — dining for two.”

A bucket of pine shavings for a composting toilet? If you are picturing what I’m picturing . . . no. Not trading my 1,900 square-foot abode for this.

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In the Matter of the Foresaid Unmentionables” by Wendy MacLeod, Kenyon College Alumni Bulletin.

“Dear Unknown User of the Women’s Recreational Locker Room: Regarding the pair of underwear that has been hanging from one of the scarce locker room hooks since January, we have some questions. Have they been worn? Have they been worn more than once? At what point will they be taken home and laundered? How is it you feel entitled to take up an entire hook when the rest of us search in vain for a place to hang our coats and towels?”

All right, own up, Kenyon readers.

Best Feature Stories


After the Deluge” by Lolis Eric Elie, Columbia Magazine.

“In the winter of 2006, Loyola University held a series of forums on post-Katrina New Orleans. I sat on a panel with John Biguenet, the poet and playwright. ‘The great enemy of New Orleans culture is American culture,’ he said. In other words, our brass bands, Creole architecture, and neighborhood restaurants are at war with pop music, mirrored-glass condos, and Happy Meals.”

And the rest is as good.

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Fear of Flying” by Ron Menchaca, College of Charleston Magazine.

“But there’s always a catch with such gifts — the universe keeping things in balance. What if the activity that sustained you also caused you to question your self-worth and your abilities? What if running called forth your darkest demons? What if you gave in to those whispers that tell you you’re fat, even when the needle on the bathroom scale has dropped into the danger zone?

“Skinny wins races, the coaxing demons say, so you kneel over the toilet and heave your guts out, hoping to purge the guilt and whatever nibble of food you just ate.”

A long, fierce story.

Best Lead Sentence


“Bash Brothers” by Brad Parks, Dartmouth Alumni Magazine: “The unlikely story of what transformed the men’s rugby team from a collection of fun-loving reprobates into Dartmouth’s most successful sports program in the last 20 years begins with three redheads.”

Bravest Story

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Not many of our magazines have been permitted to address campus racism, unless it’s with platitudinous stories about how the school wishes to reaffirm its deepest commitment to diversity blah blah blah. Bucknell Magazine went straight at the issue with “Where Do We Go From Here?” by Ryan Jones (who is, by the way, a senior editor at The Penn Stater when not moonlighting for the Bucknellians), about the response to some hate speech broadcast on a campus radio station last March. Jones and the magazine step carefully, to be sure, but the piece does not shirk from pointing out that this one incident was not isolated and Bucknell is wrestling with a profound societal problem. And Bucknell put the story on its cover. Good for them.

Editorial Trends for This Quarter, for Better or Worse

    • Stories on undocumented immigrant students, who are inevitably referred to as “dreamers”
    • Stories on how admissions works in crafting an incoming class (so glad to hear they don’t “curate” a class, at least not yet)
    • Theme issues focused on food, which has been a thing for most of the year
    • Stories on Cuba