For the second issue in a row, Baylor put football on the cover. OK, the first, Fall 2011, was technically a homecoming cover, but homecoming revolves around the football game, of course, and football players were part of the cover illustration. Winter 2011/12 featured Baylor’s new Heisman Trophy winner, Robert Griffin III. That makes four football or football-related covers in the last 14 issues. Can’t wait for the Spring 2012 cover—spring football practice! (Randy Morrison edits Baylor. By the way, RG3, as he’s known at the school, also made the cover of The Baylor Line. Yes, Baylor has two alumni magazines. It’s complicated.)
New redesign for CM, the magazine of the Commonwealth School in Boston. Editor Tristan Davies—you may recognize him as the CUE-L listserv majordomo—notes that the new biannual magazine consolidates the formerly annual alumni publication and two yearly newsletters. Davies says, “I’m an alumnus, and even before I came to work at Commonwealth, I had talked with people at the school about how old-fashioned its pieces seemed: loaded with dense text, almost no color, illustrated almost completely by student art that also printed in black and white, and not based on the standard periodical magazine. Once I started working at Commonwealth in July 2008, I started thinking more seriously about merging the three pieces into one. But I was also about to lead a complete redesign of our admissions materials, and so I put off a decision.” Then came last year’s Editors Forum. Davies got a critique from Middlebury’s Matt Jennings—hard to see how any good could come of that, but maybe it’s just me—and attended Tina Hay’s “Magazines 101” workshop. Says Davies, “On the Friday afternoon of the Forum I sat in my hotel room and mapped out the new magazine format.” Jeanne Abboud of Abboud Design had been doing the publications the last few years, and she did the new look, as well. “Yes, the same person did both the before and after,” Davies says, “which I think says quite a bit about how much we were holding her back.” The first issue of the new CM surely does look better, and includes a couple of fine pieces, Janetta Stringfellow’s “Unbreakable,” and Melissa Glenn Haber’s “Into the Words.” Now if only they’d stop employing the term “alumni/ae.”
Two other major redos: USC Trojan Family, from Southern Cal, and Drexel Magazine. First issue of the new USC magazine includes a letter from athletic director Patrick C. Haden detailing the violations of NCAA rules that led to sanctions against Souther Cal football, men’s basketball, and women’s tennis. The NCAA ordered publication of the letter, which is not exactly what you want appearing in your pretty new magazine. Sympathies to editor Lauren Clark.
Drexel’s previous design was hardly bad, but I thought the book looked more like a corporate report than a magazine. Editor Tim Hyland says, “Content-wise, the magazine was just fine when I arrived. And it looked pretty good, too. But my sense was that we really wanted to make sure that we achieved a sort of ‘cutting-edge’ look to this redesign, and to make sure the look of the magazine matched up with all of the exciting things that are happening here at Drexel today. It really does feel like a university on the move, and there’s a lot of energy here right now. I wanted the magazine to capture that.” He retained designer Emily Aldritch, who previously had designed Kenyon College Alumni Bulletin and Voice (Carleton). “She came for a campus visit, and within no time delivered two really interesting design directions. Both of them reflected the ideas we wanted to convey about Drexel—it’s urban location, it’s focus on experiential education, it’s fast-paced environment, etc. In the end, we ended up choosing a hybrid approach that borrowed from each of the design directions.” The new look makes use of bigger type and bigger art, and drops the dragon mascot from the nameplate. I was actually sort of fond of the dragon, but will concede that working your sports mascot into your nameplate is a bit lame. (Unless you are the University of California, Santa Cruz, in which case I want to see banana slugs all over your pages.) Says Hyland, “I think from a design perspective we are exactly where we want to be. Emily has done her part, and now I’d like to really focus on making the content as engaging and interesting as possible. I want our alumni to look forward to getting the magazine, and to reading it. I want to see more feedback and more letters to the editor. To get there, we need to churn out really interesting content. That’s on me as editor and on my team as well.”
Sad to say it, but the mail brought the last print edition of Endeavors, the axed research magazine at the University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill. Jason Smith’s fine publication lives on as a website, but it just ain’t the same. And it must be said of the Winter 2012 finale—Best Pig Cover Ever. Look at the penetrating gaze on that beast.
Finally, the latest Drew Magazine (Renée Olson, editor) has a centerfold. Yeah, yeah, yeah, not what you’re thinking, grow up already. It’s a double centerfold, actually, of a watercolor by Drew faculty member Roberto Osti of four seasons in Drew’s much-loved Forest. Look, it’s got birds and a chipmunk and a bunny. Now don’t you feel bad about where your mind went first?