College and University General Interest Magazines: Wesleyan University - Gold Medal

Category 17: College and University General Interest Magazines
Wesleyan University, Wesleyan

Contact: William Holder, editor, Office of Public Affairs, 229 High Street, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT 06459; 860-685-3699;

Objectives of the magazine as tied to mission: Wesleyan magazine exists to sustain and nourish a community. The lively, inquisitive, passionate, articulate, and caring individuals who spend four years on our campus share an experience rooted in a common appreciation for the enduring value of liberal arts education. They are committed to assuring that this education serves not only the good of the individual, but also the good of the world as well. The magazine is an expression of this community’s core values, demonstrated through stories about people, about the contributions they make to Wesleyan, to the Wesleyan community, and to society.

We believe that the magazine best serves readers by addressing issues of broad national importance as well as those important to the institution. We do our utmost to engage the attention of busy readers by presenting them with striking covers, with a well-organized and clean-looking book, with careful attention to story telling, and with detailed attention to photography and design.

In 2006 we added 12 pages per issue and undertook a redesign of the front of the book to develop better pacing as it builds toward the feature well. We also inaugurated several new departments. Our intent is to capture the attention of the 5-10 minute skimmer through bold visuals and short blocks of text, as well as to provide much more substantive coverage about people and issues that we think warrant the attention of a general interest reader. As often as possible, we try to apply the test of whether our articles would interest someone not associated with Wesleyan.

We have fun doing the magazine; we want our readers to have fun with it, too.

We also craft the magazine around a set of themes that the university has articulated as supporting its communication strategy. These themes speak to academic excellence, innovation in the curriculum, diversity as a means for education and scholarship, an emphasis on global affairs, and a tradition of engagement with social issues and community services.

To the extent that we are successful, the magazine builds understanding and support for the work of the institution among members of the extended Wesleyan family.

Staffing and use of resources:
Editor, William Holder (60 percent FTE to magazine)
Associate Editor, Cynthia Rockwell (100 percent)
Art Director, Steven Jacaruso (70 percent)
Photographer, Bill Burkhart (60 percent)
Additional staff members and freelancers make contributions.

Audiences: Alumni and parents of current students are the primary audience. We also distribute to faculty and staff and to friends of the institution.

Frequency of magazine: quarterly

Average pages per issue: 72

Circulation: approximately 30,200

Total annual budget exclusive of salaries and postage: approx. $246,000

Average cost per issue: $61,650 - unit cost: $2.04

Responses and/or results: Wesleyan substantially increased the budget of the magazine in 2006 in order to add pages. The decision reflects an ongoing, serious institutional commitment to the magazine as the primary print vehicle for communication with alumni. Wesleyan believes that the quality of the magazine should be commensurate with the excellence of one of the nation’s leading liberal arts institutions.

In early 2007 the editor and vice president for public affairs met with a group of alumni magazine and news professionals in New York. The consensus of the group was that the magazine should do more to capitalize on its strong position with alumni.

Wesleyan’s Office of Communications hired a firm to conduct a statistically valid telephone survey of alumni during the summer of 2004. Results showed that:

  • 74 percent read the magazine regularly (21 percent occasionally)
  • 40 percent spend between 16 and 30 minutes; 24 percent spend between 31 minutes and an hour.
  • 37 percent rate the quality as excellent; 40 percent as very good