When associate vice president Maria Henson (’82) judged senior orations in February she brought copies of the spring issue of Wake Forest Magazine with her. She didn’t leave with any. “The students said, ‘Can we take these?’ It was music to my ears.”
Henson, who oversees the magazine and its website, says the student compliments are rewarding, just as the magazine wins two top awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Wake Forest Magazine has won the Grand Award for District III (Southeast region) in two categories: Alumni Magazines (for schools with similar enrollment) and Magazine Publishing Improvement. The entries are judged on content, writing, design, photography, budget and resources.
The magazine has been working on a redesign since Henson returned to Wake Forest in June 2010. After a Pulitzer Prize-winning career in newspapers, Henson pored through 10 years’ worth of Wake Forest Magazines to learn where the publication had been and examined other college publications and general interest magazines. She, managing editor Cherin Poovey (P ’08), deputy editor Janet Williamson (P ’00, ’03), and freelance designer Julie Helsabeck, the daughter of an alumnus, brainstormed about what they wanted in the magazine’s redesign.
“We wanted to make it visually appealing with great writing,” Henson said. “We took our inspiration from Fast Company, Garden & Gun, Wired and the New York Times Sunday Magazine.” The magazine’s phased-in redesign began in spring 2011. Senior editor Kerry King (’85), creative director Hayes Henderson, photographer Ken Bennett, graphic designer Kris Hendershott and intern Hannah Kay Hunt (’12) brought their creative vision to the effort as well.
So what’s new in the magazine? A redesigned masthead and class notes, more emphasis on photography, more stories by alumni journalists across the country and a new look and feel – even down to the recycled paper and a perfect binding with a spine instead of staples. The CASE judges noticed all of it. “Fantastic improvements made to this publication!” they wrote. “It’s a striking magazine and every attention to detail – from the design to the paper choice – really takes Wake Forest Magazine to the next level.”
The judges and students aren’t the only ones taking notice. Henson says she has received positive feedback from alumni who are making an emotional connection with the magazine. “My husband and I are both 1989 graduates and have brainwashed our children in the ‘WFU Ways,’ Margaret Bunn (’89) of Raleigh writes. “We love the new WFU magazine layout and have enjoyed reading all the articles over the past few weeks. Thanks for the new layout and keep up the wonderful WFU stories! Go Deacs!”
The spring 2012 issue, Face Time, centers around stories of mentoring and the close relationships students have with their professors. A photo essay by Lauren Martinez (’13) called Through My Eyes features beautiful images of Wait Chapel, the Quad rolled after a sports victory and freshmen on Move-in Day, creates a bridge between old and new. Henson says alumni can look at these images in the magazine and say, “We know those stairs.” It’s another way Deacons who’ve graduated can remain close to Mother, So Dear.
While Henson and her team are excited about the two awards, they are equally passionate about telling the stories about the University that connect generations, honor traditions and celebrate the vision of Wake Forest.