UW News

September 5, 2019

University of Washington Magazine takes the UW’s anchor publication to a broader audience

UW News

The cover of the new magazine from the University of Washington Alumni Association.

One of the Pacific Northwest’s largest-circulation magazines is changing its name and look.

University of Washington Magazine – the new quarterly publication from the University of Washington Alumni Association – is out for home delivery next week replacing what since 1989 has been known as Columns.

“We wanted a name that was clear, powerful and resonant,” said Jonathan Marmor, the magazine’s editor. “The expanded content offers the reader an incredible range of stories about impact and innovation in our community and around the world, told through the lens of the UW.”

It was time for a redesign for the magazine, he said. Younger readers and alumni from UW’s Bothell and Tacoma campuses didn’t understand the connection between the Columns name and the four historic Greek columns, named Loyalty, Industry, Faith and Efficiency, in Sylvan Grove — a tribute to the University’s early beginnings in downtown Seattle. And the magazine wanted to widen its audience and compete with commercial magazines for readers’ time and attention.

“The new magazine reflects the global nature of the impact of the University of Washington,” said Paul Rucker, the magazine’s publisher and executive director of the UW Alumni Association. “These changes should expand our audience by attracting new readers and people from outside the UW’s immediate circles with top-notch story telling at its finest.”

Since June 1908, the alumni association has published a magazine for graduates of the UW. Originally called the Washington Alumnus, the publication was created to share the news of the school with alumni and other people interested in the development of the state’s foremost higher education institution. The first issue featured a view of Mount Rainier on the cover and sold for 20 cents, or $1 for an annual subscription. Though the business model and the format changed many times, the Alumnus continued its work, with a few brief hiatuses for financial reasons.

The name Columns first came to campus as a student-produced lampoon magazine from the 1920s through the 1950s, while the Alumnus title persevered through the decades as the name of the alumni publication.

Then, in 1989, during the Campaign for Washington, one of the UW’s first major fundraising campaigns, the magazine changed names to Columns, and expanded circulation to all living alumni of the school, or about 115,000. Today, the magazine is mailed to around a quarter million households worldwide.

University of Washington Magazine, the newest incarnation, has a spine like a book and is a larger format both in the physical size and the number of pages, Marmor said. It’s designed to linger longer in offices and homes.

“It’s a completely different physical product,” he said.

Readers will find long-form storytelling about the research and scholarship at the university and its impact on campus and around the globe. The “Forward” section is home to opinion and letters; the “HUB” contains news and research stories from the university; Impact showcases stories of giving. And “Columns” will live on, in a fashion. The name remains in the magazine as the title of a section devoted to alumni news and news about the university community beyond the three campuses.

The changes should attract new audiences to both the print publication and its digital counterpart.

“UW has so many amazing stories to share,” Marmor said. “We can’t wait to tell them.”