Opening Message

A Letter from the Managing Editor of Mills Quarterly

As a so-called “Elder Millennial,” I got the best of both worlds. When I took high-school photography in the late ’90s, I learned how to develop my own film and create hard-copy prints, but I also received instruction in the basics of Photoshop. I started learning how to type on my mom’s old typewriter, but I really perfected my keyboarding skills while speedily using AOL Instant Messenger in college. 

A white woman with curly brown hair, a blue dress, and a white sweater stands by a row of trees outside the Mills art complex.
Allison Rost

And most importantly for this job, I love a good print publication. Like many of you, I get much of my news online, but there’s just something about a Sunday spent diving into the weekend paper that can’t be replaced. When I was a kid, I devoured everything I could—from Highlights and Zillions to the stacks of Reader’s Digest at my grandmother’s house. I even started my own magazine in the third grade. (It was all hand-lettered, and I produced exactly one issue.) 

In a world where anything and everything is online, it’s only natural there’s a movement back toward the analog. Trend stories have recently popped up about Gen Z photographers turning toward film cameras— not to mention the huge resurgence of vinyl records over the past 15 years—and MediaPost reported last year that the number of new print magazines launched in 2021 was up more than 200% from the year before. We’re starting to bear that out at the Quarterly; while in recent years, we’ve developed a standalone website for the Quarterly and branched out into social media through accounts on Instagram and Twitter, our next steps bring us back to our paper product.

Well before the pandemic, we’d already started looking at how we could refresh the print version of the Quarterly. Like everyone else, we got stuck trying to keep our heads above water for a while, but we’re finally moving forward. One way we’re doing that is by reconfiguring the magazine’s style, possibly through fonts and layouts that call to mind Quarterly issues of the past. With the reputation and history of printing and publishing on the Mills campus, it’s only natural to reflect that in our pages. Look for an updated Quarterly later this year or early in 2024. 

The second way is through determining what it is that you, our readers, want to see. The Quarterly last ran a magazine-specific survey long enough ago that thousands of alums have graduated since then. We are well overdue on checking in with our readership, and I invite you to click here to get started. This is your chance to make your voice heard for the Quarterly now and in the years ahead, and I truly hope to receive a wide swath of opinions from all corners of the Mills community. 

In recent months, I’ve been asked why we don’t print more letters to the editor or Class Notes, and the reason is simple: We don’t receive that many. Similarly, for this survey, don’t assume that someone who shares your opinion will send it in for you—if nothing else, please take a quick moment to share your thoughts in one of the open text fields. As we enter a new era on campus, let’s demonstrate our continuing enthusiasm for a Mills-focused publication and make sure it reflects what the Mills community wants. 

In addition to the reader survey, this issue also includes an interview with newly arrived Mills Institute Executive Director Nicole Guidotti-Hernández, as well as a story by Sarah Stevenson, MFA ’04, about alums who work in the diversity and inclusion space. It felt like the right time to publish the results of an audit we’ve been conducting over the past several years to gauge racial representation in the pages of the magazine. We’ve looked at who we feature, who writes for us, and who shoots our photos—basically everyone whose name appears somewhere in each issue of the Quarterly. Click here to take a look. 

We don’t think that publishing this information is the endpoint of this work; on the contrary, we’re digging into more specific data (e.g., by section, by constituency group) and examining what we can do to make the magazine as representative of the true makeup of the Mills community as possible. The results from the survey should also provide guidance in this regard, as you may notice from the question on the first page. We hope both of these efforts will help us make measurable progress! 

I marked my four-year anniversary at the Quarterly last fall, which means that by the time you read this, I will have been here longer than I’ve ever been at one job. (Isn’t job-hopping another thing Millennials supposedly do?) Most of those changes were the result of my employers relocating, or big geographic moves of my own, but it recently got me thinking: Was I starting to feel restless? Did it feel like time for another big move? And it took me about .2 seconds to realize that the answer is no. 

And that’s because we’ve done a lot during my tenure at Mills, but there’s still so much potential out there for the Quarterly. I’m really excited to help realize it.

Many thanks to Mari Matoba ’03, whose market research expertise helped shape our survey questions; my student assistants past and present— Lila Goehring ’21; Tri-an Cao ’21, MFA ’22; and Danielle Collins ’24—for their meticulous data processing in examining representation in the Quarterly; and my colleague Alison Ross in Advancement Services for pulling info about the demographics of the full alum community. (Yes, our names really are that similar. We dressed as each other for Halloween.)