As we finish work on our fourth issue of NDSU magazine, it occurs to me with a large sigh of relief that we have begun to do intuitively what we had struggled so to do deliberately. (I use "we" to be democratic, but I suspect my coworkers would whisper to you that I alone was the worrywart.)
I had long hoped for a chance to launch a magazine. Such a goal was at least remotely possible, it seemed, while outlandish dreams like being an amazing novelist clearly remain out of the question. But when the day came to get to work on NDSU magazine, I began to experience fear. How to honestly portray the institution, to honor its traditions while showcasing its progress and potential. How to please the boss and still be interesting to the diverse audience, who, for starters, range in age from 16 to 100-plus. How to not blow it.
Communication practice is all about knowing your readers and understanding the message, recognizing obstacles, finding solutions. The framework was clear, but in practice I was trying too hard to form a mental picture of a thread that connected us all.
Being a land grant university means much to people on campus; it is no doubt a less pressing detail to our future students and alumni. But it is the thread. "For the land and its people," was the theme for NDSU's centennial in 1990, and while technology and globalization and much more have changed the particulars, the meaning still holds. So, for example, when I sat next to an alumnus on an airplane, a 1949 graduate in agricultural economics, we're friends from the moment we discover our common thread. He knows my uncle Sig, '49, who's pals with Bill Guy, '41, (later North Dakota Gov. Guy) and on it goes.
Thank you for reading.