Dear Readers: Changes Afoot
Readers of this magazine have hopefully noticed over the past several years that things are changing at the old school. Buildings have sprouted like mushrooms in the Oregon rain, there are more students, faculty, staff—and lines at the Boxer Bistro in the University Center. Also, despite the economy, there is a sense of accomplishment, momentum and anticipation that more progress is on the horizon.
It's all been quite exciting but extremely challenging in the Marsh Hall cubes where Pacific magazine is created. Sometimes I have to shout in mock frustration on the ever-continuing strivings of the campus community: "Will you people quit accomplishing things for a while?!" With program and campus growth has come many other priorities for our team, but the magazine remains our lead communications vehicle for engaging our alumni.
It is with that in mind that a year ago we embarked on a full top-to-bottom analysis of the magazine. We discussed its audience, its purpose, its costs and its process of creation with an eye toward a fresh new design and streamlined production. We talked with our development colleagues, invited comment from other campus marketers and got feedback on the present design from Pacific journalism students. We did our own analysis of what other schools and commercial magazines were doing. We also looked at other schools' magazine websites with the goal of better web integration.
Most importantly, we asked you what you thought via the Council for Advancement and Support of Education's national alumni magazine survey. We pulled a random sample of all of our readers and sent out the survey via e-mail. The results were very informative. First, about 400 of you took the survey, about an 8 percent return rate, which we very much appreciate. The vast majority of respondents (78 percent) said the magazine's content was "excellent" or "good." Some 86 percent said that the magazine strengthened their ties to the University and about one third had made a donation and/or attended an event because of something they read here.
About 65 percent of readers say they prefer to see the magazine in print rather than online; however, 19 percent were interested in seeing both print and online versions. In terms of topics you deem important, we gleaned a lot of information, too. We know definitively (if we didn't know already) you have a strong interest in class notes and obituaries, along with interest in alumni, faculty and student activities and achievements. "Institutional history and traditions" received the strongest response of all, at 81 percent of respondents, but campus growth and facilities, cultural events and, ahem, campus controversies, received strong interest as well. We also saw quite a bit of interest in "wider world" topics like healthcare, arts and culture and the environment.
We took all of this in, and over the last several months have developed a new look for the magazine which retains the departments and features you've seen over the life of the magazine and a few new ones added in the last two years—all with improved visual appeal and usability. One key goal from the beginning of this process has also been to better integrate and utilize our web presence. So, when we debut the new print magazine this September, a robust online magazine will accompany it as well. We hope you'll like the result. Tell us what you think either way.
Steve Dodge, Editor