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Editor's notebook, November 2015

Editor's notebook, November 2015

[letter a]s we started production of this issue, Queen’s University got some exciting news, first with the announcement of the new Smith School of Business and then with the news of the Nobel Prize in Physics. In this issue, you’ll meet Queen’s newsmakers Stephen Smith and Arthur ­McDonald. In our February issue, we’ll delve deeper into the work of Dr. McDonald and his colleagues in Queen’s Physics and at SNOLAB.

As well, we explore the evolution of the Queen’s ­Library and ­provide some Queen’s perspectives on the world of books and ­documents, from Magna Carta to comic books, Jane Austen to David Foster Wallace.

For this issue, I was fortunate to work with the talented Sarah ­Pierroz, Ed’06. A graduate of the Artist in the Community stream in the Faculty of Education, Sarah is an artist, teacher – and now an ­author – living in Italy. Her forthcoming book, A Sketch of Venetian ­History, combines art, ecology, travel and history with beautiful ink ­illustrations. I commissioned Sarah to create some modern versions of historiated initials to set off some of our stories. You can see her work above, and on pages 22, 42 and 44.

One of my favourite authors is Mark Helprin. I have two copies of his book, Winter’s Tale. One is a dog-eared, torn and coffee-stained paperback copy that I’ve had since my undergrad days. The other is a recently acquired pristine hardcover first edition with its original dustcover. They are equally valued. Which books do you cherish, and why? Let me know at review@queensu.ca.

We’ve reviewed the results of our 2015 readership survey. We were particularly interested to compare reader input with that from our 2011 survey, and see if our 2014 re-design changed reader engagement. Thanks to our readers across Canada, the U.S. and 61 other countries who took part in the survey. Your feedback is important in the planning and development of future editions. Here’s some of what we learned:

  • The QAR remains the main source of information about Queen’s University for 87% of our respondents,
  •  The magazine received higher average ratings on every section than it did four years ago,
  •  Alumni spotlights and Keeping in touch remain the two most-read parts of the magazine,
  • Readership of research news rose dramatically to third place ­overall (at 91% of respondents). This is due in part, I think, to the way we now present news of exciting research coming out of Queen’s, with great visuals complementing smart content,
  • Readers who use the QAR as a source of information are more likely to recommend Queen’s to a student, attend a Queen’s event, contact a former classmate, or make a donation to, or volunteer with, Queen’s, and
  •  58% of readers were unaware that the QAR is available online.

The survey took place before we published our digital special edition in late September. If you didn’t know, you can choose to read the QAR in print or online. (If you choose the latter, I’ll send you an email whenever the latest digital version is published.) Some readers choose both versions! Just let us know your preference.

Cha ghèill,

Andrea Gunn

[Queen's Alumni Review 2015 Issue 4 cover]