Tagged: st. thomas

I’m in deadline hell, so enjoy this post of mostly pictures

Weinberg, the magazine of Northwestern University’s college of arts and sciences, just completed a long-overdue redesign. The magazine formerly known as Crosscurrents had not revamped in 14 years, according to editor Rebecca Lindell. Out with the old:

Crosscurrents-2012-2013  Crosscurrents-2012

In with the new:

weinbergcovernew copy


I am a type nerd, so I’m particularly taken with some of what Landesberg Design (which has worked on DickinsonPittLaw, and Oberlin, as well)  is doing with typography:



I particularly like this spread, with the type sinking below the watery horizon:



sttcoverThe eponymous St. Thomas (Brian C. Brown, editor) stole a bit from Denison by starting the cover story on the first inside spread. That story pertains to the odd fact—maybe it’s not statistically odd, but still…—that St. Thomas currently has 32 sets of twins enrolled as undergraduates.


Art director Sara Klomp cleverly carried the pairing theme throughout the magazine’s photography. (I apologize for the crooked scan below. I told you I was in deadline hell.):




Finally , just when I thought I might have seen my last word cloud:


I detest word clouds. But the more I studied Georgetown Law‘s cover, the more clever it became. Take a minute and look at how the type elements are paired. The basic device is a cliche, but I still like this as a cover. Anne Cassidy edits, Brent Futrell directs the design.

When you have a creative photographer

St. Thomas Magazine has a great feature spread in its current issue. Dancers make great subjects for photography, but most dance pictures, even the well-crafted ones, follow a set of conventions. Now look at what photographer Mike Ekern was able to do with members of St. Thomas’ championship dance team:


The St. Thomas art director is Sara Klomp; Brian Brown edits. For more of Ekern’s images, go here.

Eight Questions for Brian Brown

I think of St. Thomas, edited by Brian Brown, as one of the stealth alumni magazines: It does not get a lot of attention from the alumni magazine editorial community, but it consistently does a fine job of exemplifying the University of St. Thomas, which you will find in St. Paul, Minnesota. Next March during the Editors Forum in Minneapolis, take a little time and swing by the St. Thomas campus. Brown tells me he will buy the beer. (Actually, he said just the first round.) (Actually, he didn’t even say that. I made the whole thing up. Somewhere, Jonah Lehrer has detected a disturbance in The Force.)

St. Thomas has an excellent football team that tomorrow will be playing in the national division III semifinals has advanced to the NCAA Division III title game this year. The team is known as the Tommies. Nearby Saint John’s fields the Johnnies. Imagine if this had caught on throughout the country. Swarthmore would be the Swarthies. Johns Hopkins would be the Johnsies. Wisconsin would be the Whiskeys. But I digress.

Brown graciously responded to the UMagazinology questionnaire.

How long have you been in your job?

I’ve been at St. Thomas for 20 years (15 as a writer/editor). I have been the senior editor of St. Thomas since 2007.

What has proven to be the most significant thing you had to learn to do that job?

I’m still trying to come to terms with the fact that the only thing our 90,000+ alums all have in common is that they have diplomas from the same school. Political views, socioeconomic circumstances and connections to former classmates and faculty vary wildly decade-to-decade, alum-to-alum. Even the most benign story may trigger an angry response. I’m still learning to deal with that disappointment. To keep things in perspective, I have Jeff Lott’s answer to this question posted on my office door:

When bad things happen, move on. And yes, bad things will happen. You will publish factual errors, misquote professors, and piss people off. “Appalled” readers will go straight to the top with their complaints, which will rain back down on you from that unfortunate direction. Stories will be spiked by administrators who had previously given them the green light. Writers will fail to turn in their copy on time – or at all – leaving gaping holes in your next issue. Shake it off, look ahead, and keep your wits about you to fight the next battle.

What has been your best experience at the magazine?

Having the opportunity to tell the university’s story through features and profiles. Our talented photographers and writers have the ability to share these stories on a very personal level. I am often humbled by the deep and passionate connection so many students and alumni have with St. Thomas. And if the (unskewed) results of the CASE Readership Survey are any indication, the magazine remains one of the most valued benefits of being a Tommie.

What has proven to be your biggest frustration?

Technology. (Insert idiom about leading a horse to water.)

What part of your magazine never quite satisfies you, despite everybody’s best effort?

The alumni news/notes section. Should we place class notes online or in print? Use submitted grip-and-grins that don’t match the quality of our feature photography? How many graphic identities for alumni programing is too many? Most of this content is provided to the magazine by other sources, and the end result often reflects that lack of editorial direction.

What story are you proudest to have published?

With every issue I am inspired by the research students and faculty are doing to make our world a better place. And I am touched by those who allow us to share their personal moments of pain and suffering. Two stories that best represent these experiences would be “John Abraham Takes a Stand,” a profile on a faculty member who has used science and civility to call a climate-change skeptic’s bluff, and “Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts,” the story of a former dean who is documenting his life and death with ALS.

If you could commission a story from any writer in the world, who would it be?

Norman Maclean would be a real “get.” But if we’re relying on the undead, I would choose someone only slightly less available: Cormac McCarthy—our country’s greatest living writer.

If you weren’t an editor, what would your dream job be?

Guitarist for Arcade Fire with time to fly fish during the day.

UMag inbox

On a recent Monday morning, my office mailbox was bulging with 24 magazines, demonstrating that 1) in the department mailroom, The Dale clearly is the big guy, and 2) when I ask UMagazinology readers for something, they respond. This surge in print matter has continued for several days. By the way, the 15th new title to find its way to me was Vanderbilt Medicine, so as promised, Kathy Whitney, if you’re in Atlanta for the Editors Forum, I owe you a drink.

St. Thomas, from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota (Brian C. Brown, editor), has a striking cover and cover story on engineering professor John Abraham, who took on a climate-change skeptic and ended up in a fight that became nasty in ways that Abraham never anticipated. The cover piece, by Jim Winterer, recounts how Abraham examined the evidence cited by combative critic of climate science Christopher Monckton. After his investigation, Abraham concluded that Monckton was wrong in just about every claim he made, and the St. Thomas professor issued an 83-minute video in which he laid out his case. Not much notice was taken until The Guardian in England picked up the story. Then things got interesting. Monckton was furious. He publicly called Abraham “snake-like,” “deliberately dishonest,” and—this is my favorite and I give St. Thomas marks for publishing it—a “wretched little man” who “only belongs to this half-assed Christian Bible college.” He also called St. Thomas’ president, Father Dennis Dease, a “creep.” Dease good-naturedly noted that this was a first time he’d been lashed with that particular epithet, at least in public. And you thought academic politics on your campus got nasty.

Stories worth a good read? “Rock Stars and Wrestlers,” editor Tina Owen’s conversation with legendary wrestler Dan Gable in Iowa Alumni Magazine (no link because story is behind an alumni association paywall); Jesse Kornbluth’s excellent piece on Senator Al Franken in Harvard Magazine; and from Notre Dame Magazine, Ronald J. Alsop’s “Gotta Have It, Right Now.”

I don’t know how long this has been going on, but Portland has been having some fun with its masthead. Click on the three thumbnails below and pay close attention.

Finally, great cover on the last Swarthmore College Bulletin under Jeff Lott’s stewardship.

UMag inbox

First, the Great Whiteout of Fall 2011 continues:

And while we’re talking covers, apparently Dartmouth Medicine and Iowa Alumni Magazine now share color palettes:

St. Thomas had the good sense to devote a feature story to alumnus John Kascht, a remarkable caricaturist who became an editorial cartoonist when he was 14 and wasted no time getting into trouble as a junior high school kid by drawing and passing around a “nun of the month” pinup calendar. Kascht has become so good at what he does, he has 22 pieces in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington. Writer Doug Hennes did a nice job with the story, but he had a thankless task, providing the text to wrap around six examples of Kascht’s wonderful art.

Dusk is approaching, and from the farmhouse you can see lights on in the second floor of an old chicken coop and horse stable. John Kascht hunches over a drawing table and stares at a blank sheet of paper, surrounded by photos of his subject matter. He deftly swipes a pencil across the paper and looks up to cock his head sideways and stroke his goatee before taking another swipe. He repeats the motion over and over, hardly touching the paper but, swipe by swipe, brings life to the face.

Brian C. Brown edits the magazine.

NYU Alumni Magazine (Jason Hollander, editor) weighs in with an outstanding cover story, Jill Hamburg Coplan’s “When a Woman Loves a Woman.” A case now in the judicial system, Windsor v. United States, may prove to be the landmark case for the civil rights of gay Americans. The “Windsor” is Edith Windsor, an NYU graduate who met her partner, Thea Clara Spyer, in 1963, married her in Toronto in 2007, and after she died in 2009 filed suit the next year to challenge the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that forbids exemption from estate taxes for gay marriages. When Windsor had to pay, out of her savings, $363,053 in estate taxes that a heterosexual would not have had to pay, she sued. Coplan does a great job of explicating the complex issues at stake, as well as telling Windsor’s story:

“We never dreamed it,” Edie reflects. “We didn’t expect marriage, even 10 years ago, and I never expected I’d be looking at a piece of paper that said ‘Windsor versus United States of America.’ Fighting is very hard—we spend our lives coming out, in different circumstances. We’re never all out, somehow. It takes a lot of guts to stand up and let people know—people you’ve lied to much of your life—that not only are you a lesbian, but you’re a lesbian fighting the United States of America.”

This last item is gratuitous, but I just have to say I love the name of the magazine from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina: Owl & Spade. Just set it right there on the coffee table next to Garden & Gun. I had to ask editor John Bowers how the magazine got its name, and he responded: “The first issue of Owl & Spade was published in October 1924 when Warren Wilson College was the Asheville Farm School. The masthead read, ‘The Owl and Spade: Dedicated to the Dignity of Manual Labor When Coupled with Brains.'” I love that.