Story posted May 07, 2009
Times of economic crisis are always followed by a reconsideration and reinforcement of values, of digging deep and prioritizing. The process is familiar to various sectors of the economy, institutions around the country, and our government. But what of the Bowdoin magazine? In 1938, the magazine was known as the Bowdoin Alumnus, and on Mar. 10 of that year a committee was formed to give a report on the publication to the Alumni Council. In it, the committee addressed important matters relating to the publication — most importantly, they restated the values and goals of the publication and the community it aims to address as follows:
"We believe that:
1. [The Bowdoin Alumnus] should aim to foster a continued and undying interest in the college as an educational institution — in its welfare and its progress — on the part of each and every one of its alumni.
2. It should aim to promote a deep interest on the part of the college — its faculty, governing boards and students — in the alumni body. It should keep the college acquainted with its alumni, and informed as to what they are doing.
3. It should be a medium for the dissemination of news and information about the college and its activities to the alumni who are scattered all over the world, many of whom have no opportunity (nor perhaps even an inclination) to get back, except at infrequent intervals.
This news and information should be of an intimate and current character rather than general and somewhat sketchy, as it must be in the President’s annual report and in the addresses which he delivers at alumni gatherings which are attended by only a fraction of the total alumni.
4. It should be a medium for the dissemination of news and information about the alumni themselves — their noteworthy accomplishments, and their less noteworthy as well. This news and information may be a combination of current incidental happenings and more seriously written articles. But all of definite interest to the readers of it.
5. It should carry enough material about the students and their undergraduate life and activities to give a proper feel of the living college. This should, however, be the minor part of the editorial content of the Alumnus. It is primarily an alumni publication, edited by and for the alumni, and should be kept such.
If any alumnus is especially interested in the week to week activities of the students in residence at the college, it would be better for him [sic] to subscribe to the undergraduate publication, the Orient.
6. It should be well edited and well balanced in its editorial content, not too heavy and not too light in its treatment. Contain enough reading matter of the right sort and balance to make the graduates of the college at a distant point feel that in its reading he [sic] has enjoyed a brief visit to the college, and with his fellow alumni.
7. It should, by its format, its typography and its pictorial treatment be in step with the modern trend of college magazines and current publications. In short, its arrangement should be such as to invite a reading, and be easily read."
Then, as I’m sure is also the case today, the magazine ran in the red (the inked amount printed in the report is actually, charmingly, red), but we were without the aid of a Twitter feed or other cost-free ways to help in achieving the above goals. What comes through most clearly is that it should be a place for alumni to become more involved — that the alumni themselves should be able to have some stake in the magazine issued in their name. As the Bowdoin alumni magazine transfers its content to an online format we think is, in its typography and pictorial treatment, "in line with the modern trend of college magazines and current publications," we hope that even our farthest-flung alumni (with perhaps no inclination to get back anytime soon) can be more involved, and that the closest alumni can engage more fully in feeling that they have "enjoyed a brief visit to the college."