College and University General Interest Magazines: New York University - Silver Medal

Category 17: College and University General Interest Magazines
New York University, NYU Alumni Magazine

Contact: Lynne Brown, senior vice president, university relations and public affairs, 70 Washington Square South, #1211, New York NY 10012, Phone: (212) 998-2350, e-mail:

Objectives of the magazine as tied to the mission of your institution: New York University has achieved significant gains in stature, excellence and reputation over the years. It has many compelling stories to communicate to a growing alumni base and to other valued audiences. The objective of the NYU Alumni Magazine is to connect with these constituencies by conveying the progress and changes taking place on campus and by selectively highlighting the achievements and developments of our 14 schools and colleges, while projecting a consistent overall message about the university. This magazine provides a medium to communicate regularly with them, paving the way to the additional support the university will need to maintain and advance its excellence in the future.

With NYU’s relatively weak alumni giving rate, the university has made it a priority to establish a new communications strategy to reach out to and deepen its ties to its alumni, who number over 350,000 strong. The magazine is a key component of that strategy. Connecting the alumni of the more regional, commuter-based NYU of several decades ago with the national, highly selective, research university of the present, can be challenging. The magazine reaches out to NYU alumni of all ages and all schools to show them a university of which they can be proud and a community to which they most certainly belong. Along with the expanded schedule of alumni activities, outreach, and networking, the magazine is strong visual and tangible evidence of NYU’s vibrant university community.

NYU Alumni Magazine truly captures the spirit of the NYU of today. NYU’s President John Sexton declares that at the crux of NYU’s identity is a dedication to being “in and of the city.” This enthusiasm and devotion to New York City is woven throughout each issue of the magazine. In the same way, NYU’s commitment to public service – NYU’s motto is “a private university in the public service” – is a strong theme that guides the selection of articles and highlighted alumni. And the university’s focus on building a first-rate arts and science faculty, supporting core research, and attracting and retaining the smartest, most talented and diverse students is made clear through both the features and the recurring columns.

Staffing and use of resources: The leadership for the magazine is set by the senior vice president of university relations and public affairs and the senior vice president of university development and alumni relations. They oversee the tone, overall message, and direction of the magazine. Each of the magazine’s biannual issues is edited, written, and designed primarily by consultants, several of whom are NYU alumni. The editor in chief has a team of part-time editors and writers, and uses a local design firm for layout and production. NYU students serve as part-time interns.

In addition, full-time university administrators assist with the magazine’s production – for example, the Office of Advertising and Publications sells and creates ads for the magazine; alumni relations writes class notes and alumni-related notices; public affairs generates story ideas and serves as a liaison to faculty. The magazine’s budgetary and administrative support is provided by university relations and public affairs. Office space is provided by university relations and public affairs for the student interns.

Audience(s): The magazine’s audience is New York University alumni. Additional copies are sent to university faculty, trustees, select groups of parents (usually parents of incoming students), friends, and graduating students.

Frequency of magazine: The magazine is published twice a year: mid-April and mid-October.

Average pages per issue: Each issue is 80 pages in length.

Circulation: The current circulation is 175,000, which can accommodate alumni who have made donations within the past five years and graduating students. The circulation is scheduled to increase over time to eventually cover the entire alumni pool of over 350,000.

Total annual budget for the magazine: The total annual budget for the magazine is $590,000.

Average cost per issue and unit cost: The average cost per issue is $295,000. The average cost per unit is $1.69.

Response and/or results (How did you meet your goals?): The magazine has been in existence for four years and does not yet have hard data to demonstrate its impact. A reader survey is planned, which will yield more definitive results.

Anecdotally, reader response has been very positive throughout the on-campus and external communities. Each issue generates a batch of lively letters from alumni, responding to articles or requesting inclusion in the class notes section. In particular, the spring 2006 feature piece on the 175th anniversary of the university sparked avid interest in our readers. It addressed controversial university decisions such as the discontinuation of NYU’s engineering school and its painful but fiscally necessary decision to sell its University Heights campus in 1973. After the issue appeared, alumni wrote to say that they better understood the Heights decision or to say they still regretted it.

We see increasing awareness of the magazine with alumni and friends and interest in what each new issue will bring. On campus, we have seen eagerness on the part of the deans, faculty and administrators to be included in the magazine. They find the magazine to be great exposure for their schools and programs. In one concrete example of the magazine’s impact, an alumnus gave $1 million to support a program after reading about it in the magazine.