From a recent Facebook post—I get all my news via Facebook now, don’t you?—I learned that NDSU Magazine is back. This is welcome news. The magazine was created under the direction of editor Laura McDaniel in 2000. Ten years later, it suspended publication with its Fall 2009 issue. This was a real shame, because NDSU, from its inception, was a distinctive, well-crafted magazine, publishing a combination of university news, essays, and feature stories about North Dakota State researchers, scholars, and alumni, all dressed up with some superb photography and a lovely minimalist design aesthetic.
In a recent email exchange, McDaniel wrote, “We were forced to take a break for budget purposes, always with the goal of returning as soon as we had some other bills paid.”
The first issue of the revived publication is a bit skimpy, 28 pages versus the former 48-page issues. But it still looks great and has a feature story by Sean Plottner, better known in most parts as the editor of Dartmouth, about NDSU’s Vermont origins. You’ve read that right—Vermont origins, specifically Justin Smith Morrill, congressman and senator from Vermont and author of the Morrill Act, which did much to establish the land-grant system of universities that eventually included North Dakota State.
McDaniel said, “If you put an old issue next to this one, you’ll note some subtle facelift work and a slightly different mix in terms of content. We updated the flag, for example, and some inside fonts. Content wise, we’ve included more campus news. We will be pushing readers to more online material, such as class notes and obits. I should note that this issue is not the caliber to which I aspire. It takes a while to crank up the machine, and we did not make much progress on that, so this is rather cobbled together. But as ever, the idea is to produce a high-quality magazine that reflects favorably on North Dakota State University by producing a magazine people read.”
Or, as one of the magazine’s readers put it:
So many other university magazines I see are glossy, traditional house organs with a ho-hum promotional sameness about them. These are swiftly relegated to the recycle box in my garage. Your magazine, on the other hand, is flat-dab enjoyable to read, visually intriguing, and delightfully unpredictable. Reading it has become a small adventure I look forward to. So often, snobbishness invades publications containing quality writing and design, but you have managed to provide a full measure of quality and imagination with the intangible feeling of a smile and a firm handshake.
Well, that’s the sort of thing an editor likes to hear. As McDaniel observed, it doesn’t get much better than being flat-dab enjoyable.