Iowa State & the Bioeconomy
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, VISIONS!
Deb Gibson and I are in what is undoubtedly one of the world’s smallest clubs: The VISIONS Editors’ Club. There are only two members, just Deb and me. We’ve learned over the years that we have a lot in common besides being VISIONS editors: We have daughters in the same class at Ames High, and with our names being Gibson and Gieseke, our kids are next to each other in the yearbook. We graduated from high school the same year, have practically the same birthday, both majored in journalism, both snort when we laugh.
Deb was the founding editor of VISIONS
in 1988, and she and Dan Davenport – along with designers, freelance writers, and photographers – produced a wonderful alumni magazine for nine years. My challenge when I came on staff in 1997
was to take over where they left off and
not screw it up.
VISIONS is 20 now, and it seemed fitting that we should celebrate this milestone birthday with a look back at the past 20 years (80 magazines!). Deb and I had lunch the other day and talked about what it’s been like to be a member of this “elite” club of ours. We talked about the controversies we’ve covered – and a few we inadvertently created. We talked about the extraordinary people we’ve met through this job, the friends we’ve made, and the awesome people we’ve worked with.
But this milestone birthday is not just about the editors reminiscing, although that’s been fun. No, it’s about taking a look at the role VISIONS has played for the past 20 years in the life of the university and the association, and in the lives of Iowa State alumni. VISIONS was there when the violence at VEISHEA threatened more than once to end that student celebration forever. VISIONS brought you news about sustainable agriculture, the World Food Prize, religious diversity, changes in university leadership, animal research, women in veterinary medicine, and alumni who have overcome devastating odds. We’ve shown you the lighter side of Iowa State and its alumni: At RAGBRAI, Disney World, SOV, the Iowa State Fair. We’ve kept you up on Cyclone sports and given you suggestions about what to do after the game in Ames. And we’ve taken you coast to coast to introduce you to alumni who are making a difference in their communities and in the world – just like you.
VISIONS’ audience is more diverse than most magazines’. Our readers range from 22-year-olds to 99-year-olds, from engineers to artists to scientists to teachers, from Texans to New Yorkers to Iowans, from people who deeply love and care about Iowa State today to those who simply remember Ames as a place where they spent four years. So it’s not always easy to strike a balance in our editorial content, but we know our readers care about Iowa State and want to learn more about the university and stay connected
to each other.
And if I can just get really serious and philosophical for a moment, I once heard another alumni magazine editor say that an alumni magazine fulfills its mission best by exemplifying the values of its institution. He said the magazine “earns the trust of its sophisticated, well-educated audience through respect for truth, fairness, free inquiry, and the presentation of competing ideas.”
He went on to say that his magazine had won a few awards over the years, but that the magazine’s real success had come in connecting alumni with the institution, exciting them about the things that they as alumni are accomplishing in the world, and letting them know that their school remained the vibrant institution that gave them the tools to be successful in life.
Gosh, I wish I’d come up with that myself.
Anyway, before I go on waaaaay too long, I’d just like to say that one of the very best parts of my job has been working with talented people. I was lucky in 1997 to inherit a terrific design team, Mauck+Associates, and the best freelance photographer in the state of Iowa, Jim Heemstra. Soon after, I hired a head writer, Karol Crosbie, who made the pages of VISIONS sing for six years. I currently have the pleasure of working with Kate Bruns, a fabulous writer and media-savvy associate editor, as well as a great office assistant, AshLea Anderson, and an exceptionally talented designer,
Scott Thornton of Designgrid, LLC.
I’ve been fortunate to have great bosses and work with wonderful people at the Alumni Association and the university. I look forward to coming to work every day, and you can’t imagine the fun I’ve had in the last 11 years.
So, as my predecessor and fellow Editors’ Club member Deb Gibson said in her first anniversary column back in 1989: “On behalf of the VISIONS staff, I thank you for your support and encourage your continued involvement. Now go out there and find yourself the thickest, gooiest piece of birthday cake available and eat it in celebration of VISIONS. We’ve all earned it.”
About the Writer | Carole Gieseke is the editor of VISIONS magazine.