After 60 years, Wilfrid Laurier University is retiring a legacy. Laurier Campus, the university’s alumni magazine, saw its final issue go to press in December 2022.
First published in 1962, the magazine was originally called Waterloo Campus, when Laurier was then known as Waterloo Lutheran University. Not long after it became Wilfrid Laurier University in 1973, the magazine made the switch to Laurier Campus.
“Through quite a lot of history, it was the primary vehicle to deliver news from the university to alumni and other audiences, including donors and community,” said Jason Coolman, vice-president of advancement and external relations at Laurier. It was “an opportunity to update people on what’s happening, share visuals, share stories of the place, but also connect them to each other.”
The magazine chronicled significant moments, including the university’s first doctoral degree recipient in 1990, the opening of its Brantford campus in 1999, and its centennial celebrations in 2011, alongside sports victories like the Vanier Cup and soccer titles. Important leadership transitions were consistently detailed in its pages, said John Zronik, the magazine’s editor for the past six years. “A thread throughout all the years, since 1962, was chronicling the growth of the university over the decades – construction of new buildings, increases in enrollment and highlighting the overall growth of the institution,” he said.
Sustainability, changing reader habits and rising costs all contributed to the decision to end the publication, said Mr. Coolman, but changing communication technologies was the primary driver. “I guess the shift really was that, as technologies advanced, it became one of a broader suite of communications,” said Mr. Coolman. “From an institutional strategy perspective, I think investing in peer-to-peer content, video creation, shorter and more engaging pieces that drive to longer form is probably a more wise investment,” he said. “If we didn’t have history, this would not be a challenging decision. If you were starting from fresh today, to say how do you engage audiences, with what tools and at what costs, I think it would be a very easy decision,” said Mr. Coolman.
While the print magazine has come to an end, the university plans to continue sharing news and stories with alumni through an enhanced online newsletter starting in fall 2023 , called Purple & Gold. The plan is for the newsletter to be published three to four times a year. “A lot of the elements that were included in Laurier Campus will continue in Purple and Gold,” said Mr. Zronik. “It’s also going to include feature stories about impactful alumni making a difference in the world, which really was the foundation of Campus. So, that tradition is continuing.” The newsletter will be published three or four times a year and be accompanied by a Purple and Gold website, which will not only include new content but house all past issues of Laurier Campus magazine.
“At the end of something that’s been around for six decades, it can be a little sad and melancholy,” said Mr. Zronik, “but when you look at the opportunity that’s ahead of us with Purple & Gold and the new tools that we’re using for storytelling, there’s a lot of excitement.”