Editor's Letter
On the Record
Many thanks to the 850 readers who recently took the time to respond to the CASE Magazine Readership Survey. Developed by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the survey helps CASE members evaluate how readers view their institutions’ magazines. Because of you, not only can we assess how our readers feel about our magazine, but we can also benchmark against our national counterparts.

While it’s always important to periodically gauge how a magazine is landing with its readers, we felt it was especially critical for Bucknell Magazine to do so 18 months after a major redesign.

According to our new survey results, Bucknell Magazine exceeds the national norm in many categories. A greater percentage of our readers rate our content, writing and photography as excellent or good. We are just below the norm for ease of reading, layout and design, and your narrative comments tell us that small type size is an issue in some parts of the magazine. Some prefaced their remarks with, “I know I’m an older reader, but …” And yes, 75 percent of our respondents are over age 50 — 23 points higher than other schools’ respondents. But older or not, we feel you make a good point. And we plan to do something about it.

Sherri Kimmel
Sherri Kimmel,
For questions or comments, contact me at sherri.kimmel@bucknell.edu

Because increasing the point size means we must reduce the number of words on a page — and because the survey results came in after this issue was laid out — we could only take baby steps for this issue. Turn to Pages 2 and 3, and you’ll see a larger point size. Look for more sections with bigger type sizes in the winter edition.

Many readers commented on our change in the obituaries from narrative write-ups to short listings. According to surveys, focus groups and discussions that we conducted in advance of the redesign, our readers wanted new elements in the Class Notes section. But to introduce new elements — within the same number of pages — we had to reduce something.

We dismissed suggestions to greatly limit Class Notes. As our new survey confirms, Bucknellians are much more likely than readers of peer magazines to contact a classmate, submit a class note, make a donation or discuss or forward articles. We feel our robust Class Notes are one reason why 76 percent of our readers say the magazine helps them feel more in touch with their graduating class, compared to 54 percent nationally. Further corroborating this, 91 percent of our readers say they are interested or very interested in class notes as opposed to 65 percent nationally.

We wish we could please all of our readers, but we know that is impossible. As one of our respondents wrote, “The hitch is that we are all very different people and respond to different styles, formats, material, etc.” As a means to include more personal information about Bucknellians who have passed on, please send reflections to your class reporters.

The survey asked readers to indicate topics that interested them, grouped in several categories. Institutional history and traditions, and campus facilities and growth were tops for our readers.

When asked to name their most memorable recent articles, readers cited the Bucknellians in WWI project and a collection of articles about Bucknell’s engagement with local prisons. Also oft-mentioned were articles in the summer issue about two alumni: Edgar Shields, Class of 1901; a photographer/missionary/physician in China; and TC Maslin ’05, who survived a horrific assault. In the coming issues, we’ll bring you more compelling stories like these.

If you didn’t receive the survey but wish to comment, please write me at sherri.kimmel@bucknell.edu. I look forward to hearing from you.

Illustration: Joel Kimmel