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Brown Alumni Magazine to feature new sections, website

Magazine founded in 1900 hopes to better connect alums with campus life, research

At the end of this month, when 115,000 Brown alums check their mailboxes, they will receive a Brown Alumni Magazine with a new look. In its new design, the BAM will feature new sections that aim to better integrate alumni and campus life, as well as a new website.

The redesign of  the BAM is the first in 18 years. The magazine, founded in June 1900, has always had a mission to connect alums with each other and the University, said Norman Boucher, editor and publisher of the magazine.

With the new redesign, the magazine aims to further embrace this goal. “Under the Elms,” the section of the magazine that has traditionally covered campus happenings, will now have several new sub-sections — Big Idea, Big Surge and Courses of Study.

These three sections inform readers “about the intellectual work that’s being done on campus” and show “ties between that work and the same work” alums are doing in the world, Boucher said. The topics covered in these sections highlight different perspectives, studies and initiatives being undertaken by multiple generations of the Brown community.

The Big Idea will primarily cover how Brown professors are looking at major societal issues and, in conjunction, will feature an alum’s contribution addressing the issue.

“We cover the campus and the (alums), and too often, there’s kind of a wall between those two, so what we’re trying to do is break down that wall,” Boucher said.

Readers will also get a broader understanding of the potential implications of the University’s research on the larger population through the Big Surge. Courses of Study will highlight unique elements of Brown’s education, such as  students’ independent concentrations, Boucher said.

Anne Paris ’88.5 P’21 finds these new changes “promising.”

“I’m always interested to hear about what is happening at Brown and what Brown (alums) are accomplishing after graduation,” Paris wrote in an email to The Herald. 

In addition, an entirely new “Beyond the Gates” section will profile  alums doing interesting work in a variety of disciplines and professions, encompassing not only arts and culture, but also science and technology. These sections in the new magazine provide the opportunity to showcase shorter stories, which eventually engage people to read the larger articles, Boucher said.

“I’m endlessly fascinated by the varied, diverse lives (alums) lead,” Dan Woog ’75 wrote in an email to The Herald.

Woog is excited about the recent changes made to the magazine. “A lot happens in 20 years, and it was time for the magazine to reflect that,” he wrote.

In addition to the changes made to the print magazine, the BAM is working to rebuild its website to follow the broader trend of publications moving from print to online. The publication will try to organize stories in a more web-oriented way to increase engagement, Boucher said.

“The magazine has long been known for its editorial quality and its editorial voice,” Boucher said. “So the question becomes: How do you bring that voice and how do you bring that journalistic quality to the web?”

While the magazine seeks to expand its brand through the updated website, many readers did not find a new website essential.

According to a 2017 reader survey, over half of readers keep their BAM print issues for over a month. Furthermore, when asked whether they prefer to read the BAM in print, online or both, 80 percent of readers indicated “in print.”

“I don’t think that our website will ever be a high-usage website, just because people have other things to do,” Boucher said. “The print version, for a long time, will still be the anchor of the Brown Alumni Magazine.”


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