A Partisan Perspective

By Norman Boucher / July / August 2002
July 11th, 2007
Just as this issue was going to press, the BAM received word from officials at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) that it has been chosen as the 2002 Robert Sibley Magazine of the Year. Begun in 1943, this award is sponsored by Newsweek, whose editors select the alumni magazine they judge to be the best in the country. (The award also includes a $2,000 check.)

The Sibley is the highest honor in the CASE periodical-awards program, and it was last given to the BAM twenty-six years ago, in 1976. (This is the magazine's fifth Sibley. The first, in 1969, came during the editorship of Bob Reichley; the next three were awarded during the 1970s, when Dusty Rhodes was editor.) This year the BAM also received an unprecedented four medals from CASE, for general excellence, staff writing, higher-education reporting, and best articles of the year. All these accomplishments, the result of the talent and hard work of the magazine's staff, are also a credit to Brown's 102-year-old belief that an editorially independent magazine is the most effective way of keeping the widest possible range of alumni engaged with the issues most important to them and to their University.

Like many Brown traditions, this one has had a number of protectors. One is Chet Worthington '23, the BAM's longest-reigning editor, who put out the magazine from 1931 to 1968. Two years ago, when I was still new in the editor's chair, Chet handed me a photocopied statement he had written for the American Alumni Council in 1955. Titled "Perspective for Partisans," it was what today would be considered a vision statement. "Since informed loyalty is preliminary to constructive loyalty," Chet wrote in part, "the job of the alumni magazine is to provide perspective for partisans. It operates within a frank family relationship, for both university and alumni. Above all, we remind those who shared a rich intellectual experience as students that they continue in that experience as educated men and responsible trustees."

I was reminded of these words when I saw Chet in the Commencement procession this May, walking down the Hill for the eightieth consecutive year. Suprisingly, although Chet soon turns 100, he was not the first alumnus in the march. Ahead of him was the 101-year-old Henry Ise '22, who was determined to represent his class for its eightieth reunion. With subjects - and readers - like them, how can a magazine go wrong?

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Related Issue
July / August 2002