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Learn about Cornell’s new digital-first alumni publication, Cornellians.
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!
We want all alumni to feel engaged with the university and to be able to access the stories and connections that pique their interests. Cornellians will provide alumni with increased access to a diverse array of topics and communities. Additionally, the core digital publication is 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.
Cornellians provides one-stop shopping for news about Cornell alumni, and connects users to news and storytelling from across the university. At its core is a free, digital alumni publication designed with the digital user in mind.
The initial phase of the project is focused on the editorial core. Chat areas, discussion forums, and other interactive elements are part of the vision for future phases.
That functionality is part of the vision for subsequent phases. Alumni affinities are also reflected in storytelling content.
Some areas may have limited access because of privacy concerns, but the non-alumni audience should have access to the editorial content.
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, was been an integral part of the committee since the beginning.
Alumni volunteers on the current task force have extensive industry experience, including experience transitioning print publications to digital, and have been involved throughout the year-long planning process.
In addition, Cornell contracted with Mule Design to conduct audience research. All alumni were invited to participate via a survey. Over 1,000 alumni responded.
Cornell Alumni Magazine, in its print form, was sunsetted with the May/June 2021 issue. Ezra magazine saw 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 Cornellians.
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.
The alumni communications hub and digital publication is free and open to all alumni online. The print publication will be available at a cost to alumni. The print subscription rate and details are still being determined.
Less than 10% of our 280,000+ alumni received 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.
While our focus in this initial phase of work is on designing and bringing to life the digital version of Cornellians, this project will include the development of a print option for anyone interested in subscribing to a more traditional magazine.
Alumni can subscribe to the print edition of the publication directly, instead of paying through class dues.
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 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.
Class Notes are important to many alumni, and they can be viewed in Cornellians here. Our long-term goal is to provide avenues for other Cornell communities to share news and information with their members as well.
One of the major benefits of a communications hub is that Class Notes are available for free to all alumni online. Only the print publication will require a paid subscription.
The Alumni Deaths column will continue to be published and available online.
We benchmarked against the other Ivy Plus institutions, looking at their business and editorial models, their online presences, and their circulation. We also did deeper dives with alumni publications staff at Columbia, Stanford, and the University of Michigan to learn more about aspects of their online presence and inform our decisions.
Please contact the office of Alumni Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org.