This Birthday Cake Might Melt : Pacific Magazine celebrates 40 years
By Steve Dodge
Turning 40 is a significant signpost in a human life, usually prompting introspection on what has transpired, what is yet to be accomplished and wonder about how much time may remain.
For a magazine, which counts the march of time in ink and paper and issues, and now, increasingly, pixels, even 10 years is pretty darn good. Lots of good “books” as they are called in the industry, never make it past the first few years. In academe, many colleges and universities publish their magazines, full of color and promise in good times, and scale back or quit publishing altogether in lean times.
So as we mark that spring day in 1966 a little over 40 years ago when the first Pacific Today, later Pacific magazine, (see sidebar “Origins of Pacific Magazine”) rolled off the presses, it’s worth noting that the University has felt a commitment to continuous publication during all those years, even when the school itself mightily struggled. There were a few years between 1983 and 1985 when Pacific Today was published in a two-color tabloid format and a few years in the 70s when the interior pages were printed on newsprint. There have been very thin issues, combined issues and a lot of issues without the splash of four colors, but there at least was an unbroken stream of them – all printed at Forest Grove’s Times-Litho, and handled all these years by the same print rep, Richard Bunker. In 1993, the “Today” was quietly retired with the fall issue. According to long-time editor Steve Sechrist, the thinking at the time was that “Today” implied too narrow a time frame, especially with the University thinking about its roots heading into its sesquicentennial. Also, the University was taking stock of what other schools were doing and decided it needed to take a fresh approach, he said.
And what has been talked about all these years? There have been lots of notes on the exploits of our accomplished alumni. In more recent years there’s been a boomlet of baby pictures to go along with life’s lesser pinnacles. The alleged ghost in Knight Hall has materialized eerily several times over the years. Numerous stories of Boxer, its origins, proper handling and speculation on the whereabouts of the original, have appeared. The war in Vietnam and its aftermath has been a favorite topic. And of course, lots of building, unbuilding, fundraising and stories about programs and students. From time to time the magazine has been quite topical, looking at broader issues in higher education such as the changing role of college presidents and athletics in academe.
As for the people that have toiled in the inky trenches here, there have been many. Editors, writers, designers, photographers, artists. The first Pacific Today editor, the late Charles Cushman ’60 oversaw two issues and then had the good sense to move on to alumni relations and development. He later became vice president for development at Iowa Wesleyan College and had a long and distinguished career in development. Following him in the editor’s chair in the fall of 1966 was a young fellow named Les AuCoin ’69, who was also director of public information. AuCoin guided the magazine until 1972, winning several national awards, including two Time-Life Achievement Awards and an Award of Excellence from Newsweek magazine. He then moved on to Congress, where he served with distinction for 18 years, arguably the largest vertical job change for any of our magazine editors. Longevity awards, though, go to Sechrist (1992-2000) and the woman who followed him, Gabrielle Williams (1999-2007); both served eight years as editors.
A whole legion of designers have toiled on Pacific too, waving their pica poles and Pantone books before them. Ted Owen somehow managed both the editor and art director jobs from 1987 to 1990 and then served another year as art director. The queen of arts, though, is easily Joyce Lovro Gabriel, who signed on in spring 2000 as art director and is still going strong, now with additional designer Cecily Ellis.
So, here’s to everyone, students, staff, faculty, alumni and freelancers who have contributed to such a rich tradition. We look forward to many more years of service to come.
Origins of Pacific Magazine
The Pacific University Alumnews was first published around 1939 in a newsletter format, and served as a way to communicate with alumni about various news concerning Pacific and the activities of other alumni. It was published four times each year. During 1963, there was also a monthly student/alumni publication, Pacific University Progress, but only the Alumnews proved a lasting concept.
In 1966, the decision was made to extensively reform the Alumnews, which by that time had evolved into a magazine. The focus of the new magazine, Pacific Today, would be on current issues and activities, and feature the opinions of the administration and faculty on various topics. The best achievements of students and alumni would also be featured.
Ultimately, the goal was to make the magazine’s focus more current and slightly less retrospective. However, the popular sections following the whereabouts and activities of various alumni were retained from the Alumnews.
Many of the other changes in Pacific Today were mechanical. Margins were narrowed, columns widened, title faces were changed, and the cover of each issue would henceforth be printed on colored stock, a different color with each issue.
The editor of the new publication, Charles Cushman ‘60, described the changes through the words of Thoreau: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.” Cushman added, “We have listened for a new sound, and we trust it has been a different drummer and not a pied piper.”
Elias Gilman is a student assistant in the Pacific University Library Archives.