PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — When the next issue of Brown Alumni Magazine hits mailboxes in late January, readers will notice some big changes. This month, the 118-year-old magazine will strengthen its mission to deepen connections between alumni and the University and among one another by debuting its first major redesign since 2000.
The magazine will boast a fresh look, but the redesign is much more than aesthetic — the new magazine will include a revamped approach to editorial content as well, said Norman Boucher, the magazine’s editor and publisher.
“This redesign is so much more than a visual makeover,” Boucher said. “It has offered an opportunity to probe and improve upon our goal of fostering connections to and within the Brown alumni community.”
The redesign process started with input from the magazine’s many stakeholders, including alumni, the magazine’s editorial board members and on-campus community members — from undergraduate interns to University President Christina Paxson. What BAM’s editorial team heard across the board, Boucher says, was the need for more stories and broader coverage of both alumni accomplishments and the life of the campus.
So what can readers expect?
The arts and culture section in the back of the magazine will be replaced with an expanded section called “Beyond the Gates,” which will feature stories of alumni doing interesting things in a wide variety of fields — the arts and humanities, as well as science, technology and entrepreneurship, among others.
Additionally, three new spreads in the “Under the Elms” section in the front of the magazine will focus on how faculty and students are contributing expertise and ideas on major intellectual issues. It will also give readers a deeper understanding of and connection to research, teaching and learning happening on campus, Boucher said.
The feature articles in the magazine will retain their emphasis on powerful storytelling, he added. But rather than focus exclusively on one alum or professor, features will also, whenever possible, make note of related work by others, on and off campus, to better capture engagement on a given topic across the entire Brown community.
“As an alumni magazine, we are charged with covering two very different beats: the vibrant world of campus and the far-flung and varied world of alumni, who may be decades away from graduation,” Boucher said. “With this redesign, we will be able to better bridge those two worlds by showing the many connections between them.”
Aside from a visual makeover, the “Classes” section, with updates from alumni, will remain relatively unchanged, as will the news portion of “Under the Elms." The short profiles in “Classes” have been pulled out and combined with other alumni stories into “Beyond the Gates.”
Although a reader survey last year found that an overwhelming percentage of readers still want to read Brown’s alumni magazine in print, the next step in the redesign process will be a build-from-scratch website.
“Keeping the BAM relevant going forward means bringing to other platforms the integrity and quality for which the print magazine has always been known,” Boucher said. “Rather than just posting the print magazine to our website, we are now looking to bring the BAM’s voice to the website and to our social media outlets in ways that are appropriate for those outlets.”
What won’t change, he added, is the BAM’s foundation of good storytelling.
The magazine’s new digital presence will launch in the spring.