Cornell Alumni Magazine has never been a typical alumni publication. Founded in 1899 to—in the words of the debut issue—“reflect faithfully and especially for alumni the present life at the University” and to “keep the alumni informed as fully and as accurately as possible about the whereabouts and doings of Cornell men and women,” it was from the beginning a separate entity from the institution it covers. In a phrase coined by one of its past editors, CAM—or, as it was known for most of its first century, the Cornell Alumni News—sought to chronicle Cornell and Cornellians with “sympathetic objectivity,” offering its readers an unvarnished view of the University they love so well.
Over the decades, CAM won numerous awards including—twice, in 1997 and 1999—the Sibley, the top honor in the field of alumni magazines; in 2017, it won a best cover nod from the American Society of Magazine Editors, a rare alumni publication to be so recognized. CAM profiled thousands of Cornellians, from the world-famous to the merely remarkable. It covered events both joyful and challenging—from myriad Commencements and Reunions to the 1969 takeover of Willard Straight Hall to the 9/11 terrorist attacks that took the lives of some two dozen alumni, each of whom was memorialized in an obituary in our news pages.
But like print publications everywhere, CAM has seen its subscriptions decline in recent decades. The magazine now reaches only about 5 percent of living alumni, and last year, it finally became clear that CAM’s longtime operational model was not sustainable. That’s why the current issue is the last in our traditional form as a predominantly print publication.
When the Alumni News began at the close of the nineteenth century, it was all about the written word: it was densely packed with columns of information and few images. Over the course of more than a century‚ it evolved to become a full-color magazine with a sophisticated, reader-friendly design—one that, we hope, can stand head and shoulders with many newsstand offerings. Now, it’s time for another change: while CAM is concluding, the University is launching a new online alumni communications “hub” with input from an alumni advisory board. It will include not only the kind of vibrant, journalistic coverage you’ve come to expect from CAM, but also multimedia offerings not possible in print. And for those who prefer to read about Cornell on the page, a print version will be made available by subscription.
For myself and all of CAM’s staff—several of whom have been in their posts for more than a quarter-century—it has been an honor to showcase the astonishingly high-achieving alumni, faculty, staff, and students of one of the world’s great universities. We know that Cornellians will continue to do great things—and that their alma mater will continue to celebrate them.
Editor & Publisher