Alumni

An alumna has a few thoughts about the class notes she’s reading and not reading — and why.

I can tell you exactly how many times I’ve submitted class notes to University of Richmond Magazine since my graduation almost 25 years ago. Seven. Once to tell you I got a job, three times to say I changed jobs, once to let you know I got married, and once to tell you I had a baby. (I’m pretty sure I forgot to let you know I had a second baby. So, hey, now my count’s up to eight.)

I bet those numbers ring true for many of us. We submit only what we consider to be the share-worthy, major life events. Frankly, that makes for boring reading and an incomplete picture.

Yet we’re not boring people. We’re full of life! As just one example, look at the news our UR friends share in our Facebook feeds.

One friend just posted about a trip to Italy with her 79-year-old dad — a dream vacation inspired by her mom, who passed away 10 years ago. Another friend, who’s battling kidney disease, posted that she made it onto the transplant list. Another shared a video of himself performing a song we all used to sing together in his dorm room in Marsh Hall.

We need to replace the word 'submitting' with 'sharing' and redefine our audience from nameless, faceless 'magazine readers' to 'friends.' We need to take back class notes.

We’re on the college tour circuit and the kindergarten circuit. We’re struggling with the deaths of loved ones, the ends of marriages and partnerships, and the challenges of caring for aging parents and aging children, stepchildren, and foster children. We’re making a difference in every field, whether it’s our vocation, our avocation, or something in between. We’re making time to visit each other and travel together.

This is the stuff that makes a life and that makes for interesting reading. This is the stuff that keeps the UR web strong.

So why aren’t we reading and writing about it in class notes?

I can give you a whole bunch of reasons that have to do with print versus online platforms, interactivity, and immediacy. I can talk about norms and cultures and values and how class notes may or may not correlate with our connection to UR. It’s what we college magazine editors talk about at our annual conference. Yes, we really do talk about class notes and attend annual conferences.

But where I work, at Williams College, we have an abundance of class notes — so many that, 12 years ago, I created a separate, 120-page alumni news publication that comes out three times per year. Only a small portion of the news consists of major life events. The rest is day-to-day experience.

A lot of why we’re not sharing our lives in University of Richmond Magazine is on us. We need to re-think what constitutes news. We need to replace the word “submitting” with “sharing” and redefine our audience from nameless, faceless “magazine readers” to “friends.” We need to take back class notes.

The good news is, we can do this. The editors of this magazine want us to. That’s why I’m writing this essay — the editors asked me to. (That’s another thing that happens when editors attend annual conferences.)

And it’ll be worth it, I promise.

So, I’ll start.

• • •
Amy Terdiman Lovett, ’94, is spending a lot of time at the soccer fields lately, coaching a team for her 7-year-old (who also does Tae Kwon Do) and cheering on her 10-year-old daughter (who also plays guitar). She just celebrated her 17th (!!) year at Williams. She commutes to work 30 miles, each way, over a mountain (!!), but the views never get old, and she’s catching up on podcasts. She can’t wait to catch up with her UR roomies for a 45th (!!) birthday trip, destination TBD. She’ll report where they ended up in the next issue. 
• • •

There you go. Updates number nine, 10, 11, and 12 for me. Now it’s your turn.

Share your news alongside hers next issue via classnotes@richmond.edu. Amy is the editorial director for Williams College in Massachusetts and edits its magazine.