The six awards included three gold awards for "Best Feature Article" for Editor Carole Engblom's story "On the Front Lines," "Best Use of Visuals and Photography" for Don Bratland's design of the article "Love Your Neighbor," and "Best Overall Design." Also honored was the article "Global Oles," which won a silver award for "Best Single Topic," and two bronze awards in the categories for "Alumni World" and "Overall Excellence."
The St. Olaf Magazine has been under the editorship of Engblom since 1999, when she took it from being a 48 page black and white publication to a magazine that could, in the words of Director of Communications Amy Gage, "pass the coffee table test."
According to Gage, Engblom has led the way in the transformation from a publication focused on alumni to a publication that "[tells] the St. Olaf story in a variety of ways."
This year St. Olaf Magazine, because of high readership (the magazine reaches 42,000 alums, parents, students, prospective students and others), was placed by the MMPA with the magazines of larger schools, like St. Thomas and the University of Minnesota.
Engblom said of the awards, "It's wonderful to be recognized by your peers ... but was especially exciting in the new category."
As a tool for interconnecting students to the outside world, the magazine has many things of which to be proud. Photographs in the May 2006 issue from Ole Spring Relief were all taken by students who went on the trip, and that article, "Love Your Neighbor," received a gold award.
The magazine features the writings of its staff as well as current students and Ole alums who are now professional writers. "[The recognition] is a pat on the back for the whole college," said Engblom.
Gage noted that the recognition of the magazine has had some effect on the whole communications department. "Standards we have set in the magazine have permeated through the rest of the department," she said.
Gage also spoke very highly of the staff, nothing that they have strong collaboration skills, as well as skills in different areas that allow each other to focus on different things.
The growth of the magazine has also created other means by which the communications department can grow: the e-newsletter, for example, is used as a complement to the magazine, since the magazine is only published three times a year.
In the future, the magazine will look towards updating its website, making the archives searchable and creating more external, complementary vehicles, like the e-newsletter to complement the magazine.
But the magazine itself will still continue to strive for the best. Gage commented that the magazine gets better all the time: "The bar gets raised with every issue and [Engblom] keeps clearing it."