When I came to Knox almost 16 years ago to work on the College website, one of the first calls that I received was from Knox Magazine editor Megan Scott ’96. She had started working at the College just a month before me and had this grand idea to take the magazine online.
That first attempt was not much more than a list of links to copy from the stories with a smattering of photos. Over the years we made the digital version more visually appealing by introducing a few more photos and a video here and there, but when we surveyed alumni, there was little interest in a digital version of the magazine.
In 2017, on the 100-year anniversary of Knox Magazine, we introduced a new, standalone website designed to showcase magazine content that features everything we publish in the print version, plus multimedia content and expanded features and profiles. Readership soared, and for the past few years we have contemplated the possibility of delivering the magazine entirely online—someday.
We did not anticipate that day being in the spring of 2020. But here we are. Along with the rest of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic derailed our best-laid plans. We were just a few weeks from getting the magazine to the printer when Illinois declared a stay-at-home order and the decision was made to deliver the entirety of spring term remotely.
Why did we decide not to print this issue? First, obviously, is because the world has changed dramatically since this issue was reported and written, and four weeks from now, when a printed copy might finally arrive in your mailbox, the world will be more different still. A semiannual publication like Knox Magazine will never be a source for breaking news, but in this current environment, it does run the risk of becoming a time capsule.
To keep alumni, parents, and friends of the College informed, we have shifted our alumni communications to shorter, more frequent updates, like a weekly (instead of monthly) Gizmogram. The content focuses not just on what's happening at the College, but also includes content on the many amazing ways alumni are responding to the new challenges we face every day.
The second reason for taking the Magazine online is because the College is facing extraordinary financial hardship because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. When spring term moved to a virtual environment, the College did not collect room and board revenue from nearly a thousand students. As President Amott has noted, this was the right thing to do and is in keeping with our core values. But doing so came at a steep cost to the College, adding $3 million to the budget deficit already projected for the current fiscal year. While the cost of printing the magazine is negligible in comparison, it is not insignificant. At this moment the College needs to focus its resources on ensuring that students are able to continue their studies and faculty can continue to teach.
I cannot foresee what the fall will bring, but whether you receive your magazine in your mailbox or online, we will still be here to tell the story of Knox, its alumni, faculty, and students, in articles, photos, and its beloved Class Notes.