Things are changing for the Cornell Alumni community. Learn about the future alumni communications hub, and what it means for you.

Why are communications important for alumni engagement?

  • Communications are a part of the foundation for alumni engagement and building a robust alumni community—to help connect alumni to the university, the university to alumni, and alumni to each other.

Why create a new alumni communications platform?

  • We have an incredible opportunity to broaden our reach and engage more alumni than ever before via a new digital-first communications platform.

     

    Over the years, a growing number of alumni have asked to receive and interact with Cornell information online/digitally—and we have heard them! While our focus in this initial phase of work will be on designing and bringing to life the digital version of a new alumni publication as the core of a new alumni communications hub, this project will include the development of a print option for anyone interested in subscribing to a more traditional magazine.

     

    We want all alumni to feel engaged with the university and to be able to access the stories and connections that pique their interests. Creating a new communications platform will provide alumni with increased access to a diverse array of topics and communities. Additionally, the core digital publication will be more accessible for most of our alumni with disabilities, which aligns with our university efforts to promote equity and inclusion.

     

    In developing our 2020-2024 Cornell Alumni Engagement Strategic Plan, we received a lot of feedback from alumni about communications—in particular, that alumni were receiving too many communications and there was a lack of clarity on how all of the various channels fit together. Building a new digital-first alumni publication integrated within a new digital communications platform allows us to streamline communications and create a better user experience for our alumni.

     

    At the same time, a review of peer institutions and university-wide communications launched by University Relations and the Provost’s Office identified alumni communications as an area with significant potential growth for the university.

Tell me more about this new platform.

  • The new alumni communications hub will provide one-stop shopping for news about Cornell alumni, and connect users to news and storytelling from across the university. At its core will be a free, digital alumni publication designed with the digital user in mind.

     

    In addition to news and features, the communications platform will include opportunities to volunteer and attend events, and eventually, provide an alumni-to-alumni component.

What is the timeline for sharing this platform with alumni?

  • We are at the beginning stages of developing this new digital publication and communications hub. We will roll it out in phases, beginning in July 2021.

Were any alumni involved in the decision-making for the new hub?

  • Yes, we assembled an ad hoc committee of highly engaged alumni, university leaders, and staff members. Many of the committee members have extensive experience in publishing, communications, print, digital, and social media, as well as current or past engagement with CAM. Jenny Barnett, Editor and Publisher of Cornell Alumni Magazine, has been an integral part of the committee since the beginning.

     

    Members of the Alumni Publication Committee include:

     

    • Rob Rosenberg ’88 - Convener, Alumni Publication Ad Hoc Committee; Vice-Chair, Cornell Alumni Magazine Committee
    • Jenny Barnett - Editor & Publisher, Cornell Alumni Magazine
    • Sheryl Tucker ’78 - Trustee Emeritus
    • David Steward ’79 - Cornell Alumni Magazine Committee member
    • Betty Wong Ortiz ’94 - Chair, Cornell Alumni Magazine Committee
    • A’ndrea Van Schoick ’96 - President, Cornell Association of Class Officers
    • Michelle Vaeth ’98 - Associate Vice President for Alumni Affairs
    • John Carberry - Senior Director of Media Relations and News, University Relations
    • Kyle Kubik - Senior Director, Budgets, Administration & Licensing, University Relations
    • Jason Zausmer ’96 - Financial Analyst, Alumni Affairs & Development
    • Andrew Gossen - Executive Director, Communications, Marketing & Participation, Alumni Affairs
    • Lisa Bushlow ’91 - Senior Director, Alumni Affairs
    • Patty Gabriel - Executive Assistant to the AVP for Alumni Affairs

What does this mean for Cornell Alumni Magazine and Ezra magazine?

  • Cornell Alumni Magazine, in its print form, will be sunsetted with the May/June 2021 issue. Ezra magazine, which is now completely digital, will see its final issue in spring of 2021.

     

    We are committed to transforming the heart, the soul, and the spirit of CAM and Ezra that alumni have come to know and love into the new digital publication and communications platform.

     

    We will continue to help connect alumni to the university, the university to alumni, and alumni to each other. Creating a new communications platform will provide alumni with increased access to a diverse array of topics and communities. We want all alumni to feel engaged with the university and to be able to access the stories and connections that pique their interests.

Why eliminate both print publications?

  • Currently, less than 10% of our 280,000+ alumni receive either Cornell Alumni Magazine or Ezra magazine.

     

    In addition, it is no secret that the past 10-15 years have been challenging for print publications. We’ve continued to see a steady decline in subscriptions, while the resources needed to produce these publications have remained substantial. We aim to use Cornell’s resources as strategically as possible—and to reach as many alumni as possible—which necessitates a digital approach.

Will the authentic alumni voice that we’ve come to expect from CAM carry over to the new digital platform?

  • The new digital publication and alumni communications hub will embody an authentic, genuine alumni voice—and tackle relevant subjects that resonate with alumni with “sympathetic objectivity” toward the University. While we are at the very beginning of this process, we are committed to this being a partnership between Cornell alumni, University Relations, and Alumni Affairs & Development. Prior to the new publication going live, we intend to install a governance process, which will include an alumni advisory board or committee.

I really enjoy holding a print copy of a magazine in my hand. Will that still be an option?

  • While our focus in this initial phase of work will be on designing and bringing to life the digital version of this new alumni publication, this project will include the development of a print option for anyone interested in subscribing to a more traditional magazine.

Will classes still collect dues? Without CAM, what will dues go toward?

  • Yes, classes will still collect dues to build class treasuries, and class officers will still determine how those treasuries will be allocated to support Cornell. Class officers will still set their own class dues rates, and they will continue to work with staff to determine their dues solicitation plans and messaging.

     

    Beginning on January 1, 2021, however, alumni will no longer have the option to subscribe to CAM with their dues payment. Since CAM subscriptions will no longer be received as a benefit of paying dues, alumni affairs will emphasize that class dues are fully tax-deductible.

     

    In the future, classes who wish to explore options for funding their class treasuries in ways other than collecting dues may do so by working with their alumni affairs staff contacts.

     

I’ve already paid for the magazine for the July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021 time frame. Will I still receive my CAM issues?

  • Yes, you will continue to receive your print issues concluding with the May/June 2021 issue.

What will happen with Class Notes?

  • Class Notes are important to CAM readers, and they will have a place in the new communications hub. Our long-term goal is to provide avenues for other Cornell communities to share news and information with their members as well.

     

    Class Correspondents will continue to collect class news for CAM’s Class Notes columns.

     

    Columns submitted by Class Correspondents by February 15, 2021 will appear in CAM print editions, concluding with the May/June 2021 issue. Those submitted by Class Correspondents after February 15, 2021 will also be available to classmates – though specific details about how they will be shared are still being determined.

Will colleges, schools and other units at Cornell be part of this new alumni publication?

  • Right now, communications teams from colleges, schools and other academic and administrative units work together with University Relations and Alumni Affairs & Development to find, tell and share stories from throughout the university. Those partnerships will continue and help feed this new alumni communications platform, with colleges, schools and units being invited to play a robust part in this new effort.

Can alumni participate in the development of the new publication?

  • YES—we want to hear from you! We welcome alumni feedback and input in the development
    of this new communications hub and digital publication. Please send your ideas and feedback to the office of Alumni Affairs at alumniaffairs@cornell.edu.

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