There are now 35 years’ worth of Notre Dame Magazines stacked on the shelves in the little room where I obsessively reheat my coffee. I often thumb through a back issue while waiting for the microwave to beep. Each edition is a time capsule that resurrects memories of people and stories, that reminds me of the misfires and triumphs, and (I hope) offers evidence of the magazine’s growing sophistication. Excursions into the past also underscore the continuity of this magazine’s place within the University community.
The first issue launched with a package of essays on life and death—from abortion to euthanasia. From its inception the magazine was seen as an extension of the University and its educational mission. The magazine would attempt—through the honest exploration of cultural trends, developments and sometimes uncomfortable contemporary issues—to serve alums long after they had left campus. The institution would not abandon its graduates but would give them a magazine to help the Notre Dame ethos resonate in their lives as they navigated a world fraught with moral thickets, a rapidly shifting modern landscape demanding not only knowledge but also wisdom and faith and moral leavening.
So the magazine has sought to offer readers stories that examine life’s essential meanings in a manner consistent with the conversations that take place on campus. By expanding this dialogue and Notre Dame’s unique contribution to the societal conversation, the magazine also serves the University’s higher purpose of engaging the culture, lending Notre Dame voices to national, international and Church debates on complex, critical and often cumbersome topics. By extending the University’s reach in ever-widening circles of influence and by situating Notre Dame people, research and scholarship in those discussions, the magazine furthers the institution’s mission of making an impact on the world.
As an alumni magazine, it tells the stories of Notre Dame people and strengthens the bonds that make the Notre Dame family real. It keeps people close to the place and, I hope, makes them feel good about it. And proud of it—as a university self-assured enough to provide a platform for people to wrestle with the dilemmas that animate and often confound the mind, heart and soul.
As the University’s magazine, it covers all aspects of the institution and serves as its primary print communications vehicle. Remarkably, it does this not as an institutional mouthpiece but with an extraordinary measure of third-person reporting in which candor, integrity and loyalty are prized. Credibility is the critical ingredient in this endeavor; trust is the essential contract between the magazine and its readership. This magazine is produced for its readers (who very generously support it). The views expressed here are those of its many diverse authors and do not necessarily reflect an official institutional stance.
There’s an adage in journalism: “Show, don’t tell.” We like to think the magazine presents Notre Dame as a confident, intellectually vigorous and spiritually robust university, without the overt salesmanship you might find elsewhere. We think it’s a more convincing, more impactive approach.
So there’s a lot going on in these pages. We juggle a wide assortment of offerings, demands, sensitivities and judgments with a fun mix of creativity, surprise, hope and affection. It’s pretty gratifying to look over 35 years of magazines. It’s even better to head back to my desk to work on the next one.
__Kerry Temple is editor of_ Notre Dame Magazine. Email him at email@example.com:firstname.lastname@example.org.