Tagged: carolina alumni review


On July 1, I became editor of Johns Hopkins Magazine. I was already deep into a complicated feature story on pain science, so the plan was for Catherine Pierre, who was promoted to interim communications director, to co-edit the forthcoming issue with me. But Catherine had to step right up to her new duties, which meant I was on my own finishing the magazine. So time for blogging has been in short supply.

Today, though, there’s an interlude before I have to start writing captions and heads and cover lines. Speaking of  . . .

A batch of striking covers have appeared in my mailbox in the last month. First up, great minds think alike:

car   wellesley

The Carolina Alumni Review cover is for a special food issue, which includes recipes from alumni cooks. As a resident of Baltimore, I must take exception to Robert Stehling’s recipe for crab cakes. It calls for diced bread. You do not, under any circumstances, sir, put filler like bread in a crab cake. That sort of thing will get you in trouble in Baltimore.

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Next . . . excuse me, but your cover is dripping:

stanford   holyoke   texas

The Alcalde cover story gets that magazine’s digital multimedia treatment, which is starting to make me jealous.

Finally, there’s this one. Just because it’s so pretty:



More to come in the days ahead, because how much work could this new editor gig be?

UMag inbox

It’s Inbox Monday, and there are several tasty items in the Blogateria. And yes, I am surprised and disappointed by my resorting to such a cheesy opening. We go to press in a couple of weeks and I’m feeling a bit cooked.

Denison Magazine continues its clever innovation of cover stories that play out in the first six pages of the magazine plus the back cover. The June ’12 issue presents “Power Struggles: Why Energy Policy is More Complicated Than You Think” as four true/false questions, starting on the inside front cover with “True/False: Fracking is Bad for Us.” The illustrations by Ward Sutton are tremendous. The above is my favorite, but it was hard to pick one. (Do yourself the favor of clicking on the image to open it big in a separate window.) Part of what I love about what Denison is doing here is it breaks free of the constrained thinking (that has been my thinking until recently) that the cover story has to be the longest or the heaviest or the  most important story in your feature well, or has to be a story in your feature well at all. Every time out, I look forward to what Maureen Harmon and crew have done with the latest issue. They have figured out something unique to our magazines, and I can’t stress enough how rare and difficult an accomplishment that represents.

Zebra fish are hot hot hot. The newest issues of Notre Dame Magazine and Pitt Med both have stories on zebra fish research. My mother kept zebra fish, in and among the guppies and angel fish and Siamese fighting fish. Little did I know she was conducting research on macular degeneration and Parkinson’s. Ma, I underestimated you.

I shy from giving praise to publications produced by Johns Hopkins University, lest anyone begin to think that was the secret purpose of UMagazinology. But I’m making an exception for the new issue of Johns Hopkins Engineering, which has this terrific lead by Jim Schnabel, from his cover story on the meeting of biology and robotics:

Listen to the night music of cockroaches. Clickety clickety clackety clackety . . . Listen to their tiny, spiny feet as they careen across the tiles in your kitchen. What do you hear? What can you learn? These hardy primordial creatures zip through cluttered spaces in utter darkness at human-equivalent speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. Yet you never hear them crashing headlong into things, even though the cockroach brain has only an infinitesimal fraction of the computing power of the average mammal’s. How do they manage this supendous feat with such meager neural resoures?


I’ve never been a fan of commencement stories, but North Carolina’s did bring forth a swell cover for Carolina Alumni Review:

I’ve been waiting for years to see someone publish a feature done by a comics artist, half hoping it would be my magazine, though I never pushed the right idea. Well, The University of Chicago Magazine, in its July-August issue, has done it, covering a conference titled “The Comics: Philosophy and Practice” in the only sensible way: As a four-page comic by alum Jessica Abel.

Finally, around here we’ve joked for years about the Johns Hopkins Magazine swimsuit issue. Now, damn them, the folks at Occidental have done it. Sort of.

That’s Occidental College’s president, Jonathan Veitch, who seems to have a robust sense of humor.

UMag inbox

So, any bets on what snares the cover of the next issue of Kentucky Alumni? C’mon, chance a guess.

Carolina Alumni Review, in its March/April 2012 issue (Regina Oliver, editor), reports that dog handlers now bring therapy pooches to UNC’s library to provide a bit of solace to students cramming for final exams. Yes, the image of the spread is here because I wanted to run the adorable dog photo. Yes, that violates the babies-and-cute-animals-are-cheating rule. I’ll wait while you click to expand the image, show your office mates, get all doe eyed, then come back here . . . . . . . . . . OK, that’s enough. Now, credit to Oliver and writer Beth McNichol for the cover story “Family Matters” (no link at the moment), an honest exploration of legacy admits—children of alumni who want to attend North Carolina, are expected to attend North Carolina, but don’t always get into North Carolina, and perhaps should not always get into North Carolina. From an institutional standpoint this is dicey emotional and political ground, and McNichol does a good job with the story. Her opening provides a sample of her lively prose:

One week after we had our first daugher, who is now 7, my husband and I had a serious discussion about commitment.

“Look,” I told him, flush with 2005 pre-national championship game fervor and my fair share of postnatal hormones. “I know you didn’t go to Carolina, and I know that you’d rather watch MythBusters than a basketball game. But I am going to need your help with this.”

I pointed to the slumbering child in the bassinet, who wore a Tar Heel onesie.

“She has to love Carolina,” I said. “I’m going to do everything I can to instill this in her, but I would really appreciate it if you would, from time to time, help push my agenda. Talk it up a little. Get on board with some sporting events and the like. Tell her she’s going to school there one day. OK?”

McNichol delves into the numbers—the percentage of alumni offspring who gain admission versus the percentage of non-alumni kids—and the fact that whether you are a Tar Heel alum or not doesn’t alter the fact that if you live in the state, you pay the state taxes that support the school and expect a fair shake from admissions. She quotes extensively admissions people who seemed to be doing their best to honestly respond to her questions and articulate however much, truthfully, it matters that your parents have UNC degrees. She also discusses—and due credit to Carolina Alumni Review for putting this in the magazine—an example of appalling parent behavior when the son does not get in, and the aggrieved father, an alum, whose first three kids got into Chapel Hill but the fourth did not, on two tries. The story notes legacy students who question whether they got in on merit or because a parent was an alum, and quotes the parents of a rejected kid who wrestle with their respect for fair admissions and their understandable wish that, in the case of their own kid, their legacy status had landed her a spot. Finally, McNichol comes back to her own ambivalence.

Everyone has a life story. At some point, that story becomes an admissions tale, sifted like sand and rock for gold. No one, including me, wants her children to be labeled silver. Twenty years ago, it mattered who I was on my UNC application. A decade from now, should it matter who I am on my daughter’s?

Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?

In the same issue, Carolina Alumni Review devotes a feature to debate over the university’s 212-year-old honor code, in light of a football player recently accused of plagiarism. That makes for a damned strong issue of the magazine, I’d say.

Also in my mailbox was Oberlin Alumni Magazine‘s redo. (That’s the old on the left, new on the right; Jeff Hagan edits the magazine.) I think the new design looks great, and as an editor on a publication that is just receiving the first reviews of its own revamp, I loved this letter to the editor:

At the risk of not being politically correct—I hate the new look of our alumni magazine. In fact, I first threw it away, thinking it was some corporate investment brochure, until I saw the words “Class Notes” (my favorite part), as the pages fanned out falling into my recycling bin.

Alumni magazine editors everywhere will wryly note the unwitting irony in that letter.

Finally, under “things I didn’t know until I started receiving ’most every alumni magazine in the country”: Hobart College and William Smith College are close neighbors in upstate New York, so close they operate as a “coordinate college system” and publish a joint alumni magazine with the lovely title Pulteney Street Survey (Catherine Williams, editor). Now I know, and so do you.