Archive for the ‘Summer 2012’ Category


Seen and Noted

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Summer’s almost over! Before you turn in your swim suit for school clothes, there is still time to relax with a selection of our favorite stories from past issues of Cram Quarterly.

FEATURE : The Numbers Add Up

The Numbers Add Up

Monday, September 1st, 2008

The numbers add up to a successful travel piece for UM Carey Law.

Using simple, powerful graphics, the three-panel brochure GCF created summarizes the UM Carey Law story. This travel piece serves as a teaser for UM Law’s larger, more comprehensive Prospectus, which is still in production.

Contributed by Jenny

FEATURE : Retouching—a touchy subject

Retouching—a touchy subject

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Photo manipulation is not a modern phenomenon. Before Photoshop, photographers used various techniques such as applying ink to the photographic print, or darkroom tricks such as dodging, burning, or double exposures, to alter the image captured by the camera. The original image below of Civil War generals by Matthew Brady was altered to include General Francis Blair at right. More ominously, this photo of Stalin was altered for propaganda purposes—a Russian official who fell out of grace with Stalin was executed and later “rubbed out” of the group photo.

Today’s sophisticated technology makes photo tampering harder to detect than ever before. We’ve all seen images circulating the Internet like the one of the shark attacking a helicopter or the giant human skeleton found in the Saudi Arabian desert. It’s easy to dismiss them in spite of the verisimilitude. Websites like Snopes do a good job of separating truth from fiction when an image is not so obviously fabricated.

We educational communicators must take care when we use photo-retouching technology. Is it okay to retouch blemishes on the close-up shot of a professor? What about a little Photoshop to clean up the peeling paint on the column of Old Main? Or seeding the grass on the athletic field? Or removing a distracting cluster of paper cups in a lab scene? I think all of these examples fall well within the permissible range of retouching. But retouching that manipulates the truth of the institution falls beyond the acceptable range. In one high profile case, a university edited a shot to include a minority student in a cheering crowd because the original shot was not diverse enough. That same university added an African American student—who wasn’t there before—to a group shot in the viewbook. The retouching was discovered after publication and aroused a storm of controversy.

When deciding which edits are acceptable, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself: “If the retouching were discovered, would it harm the reputation of the institution, your office, or you?” If the answer is unequivocally “no,” then go ahead and polish the shot.

Suggested reading: All Things Photography

Contributed by Domenica

FEATURE : Mining for Stories

Mining for Stories

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Throughout history, humans have collected objects: tools to help them in their daily survival, talismans believed to have magical powers, works of art, discarded pieces that tell the history of a lost civilization. Consider the following anecdote. On his way to work, a friend of mine glanced on the ground and saw a broken penny. He picked it up to examine it more closely and without much thought, he decided to keep his find. Several months later, the same friend was crossing an intersection in downtown Baltimore when a glint of copper caught his eye. He reached out and whisked the object off the ground while hurrying to the curb. Examining it more closely, he realized that he had found the missing piece of the penny he had collected several months before. As he joined the coin together, my friend saw that the missing half contained the phrase, “In God We Trust.” Suddenly, the penny took on added significance and raised new questions about the previous owner. Who tore the penny apart? Why did he do it? How did he do it? Was this a response to a personal crisis?

Sometimes, we can only speculate about the narratives behind an object. Several years ago I bought a vellum-bound prayer book dating to 1720. The first few pages have burn marks on the edges. I imagine that the book’s original owner was a priest who was reading by candlelight. Perhaps he dozed off and was startled awake by the smell of burning paper. I picture him beating out the flames, closing the book, and going back to sleep. The book carries the evidence of that simple scene into the present day. All we need to do is look and imagine.

Not long ago, I was doing research in the archives at Frostburg State University in preparation for their upcoming capital campaign. My colleagues and I came across several old ledger books that recorded early donations to the University. As I read through the list, I was surprised to see hundreds of nickel, dime, and quarter donations. The ledgers were a record of the small sacrifices of the FSU community—many of them hard-working coal miners—who dreamed of a better life for their children. Inspired, we realized that this powerful story should be told in the campaign case statement.

What stories are waiting in your college archives to be told? Is there a tree, a stone, or a bench in a forgotten corner of campus that preserves a powerful story? Take a look around. You might be surprised what treasures you discover.

Contributed by Domenica


Desperately seeking…something

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Desperately seeking…something Seeking: that’s what scientists are calling the insatiable human desire for information. It’s the behavior that makes us love Google, Twitter, text messages, and emails. According to this article in Slate Magazine, the problem with seeking is that our brains are more stimulated by the search than by the findings. That’s why when you sit down at the computer to Google one phrase, you sometimes “wake up” an hour later to find that you’ve gotten completely off track. The more we seek, the less likely we are to find the satisfaction we are looking for. It’s the behavior, not the results of the behavior, that’s turning us on. Maybe it’s better, then, to turn the “Crackberry” off once in a while.


Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Biting off more than your customer can chew

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Biting off more than your customer can chew I don’t know about you, but I tend to avoid any restaurant that “specializes” in more than one ethnic cuisine. This approach suggests a lack of commitment. After all, what schizophrenic cook can balance the butter- and cream-based cooking of France with the olive oil-, lemon-, and basil-based cooking of Italy? And how does the All-American burger fit between them? The matchbook pictured above reminds me of an important guideline in marketing: “Find out what you do best, and do it better than anyone else.” That’s the best way to fill a restaurant—and your incoming freshman class.

Contributed by Domenica


Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Good Inn Tension

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Good Inn Tension On a recent business trip to St. Louis, I experienced a hotel marketing idea with a mixed message. As my taxi arrived at the upscale inn, two handsome men in uniform greeted me at the door and offered to help me with my bags. Check in was quick, and I was impressed and pleased with the room accommodations. There was even a small, carefully packaged pink satchel on the bed stuffed with things for me to use during my stay. As I pored through the contents of the satchel—earplugs, scented spray, eye mask—I became uneasy. Would my room be noisy, smelly, and too bright? I’m sure the hotel had expected me to feel pampered, but their pretty pink satchel made me feel apprehensive instead. The lesson learned? Good intentions are not enough. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. It’s an easy way to test whether or not you’re sending out mixed messages.

Contributed by Brenda


Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Super SCARY fragilisticexpialodocious

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Super-SCARY-fragilisticexpialodocious Don’t watch this re-cut version of the original Mary Poppins trailer all alone! Using only footage from the movie and adding a bit of editing and music, this videographer succeeded in creating a downright terrifying remake of the original children’s movie trailer. This is a strong example of the power of presentation. All of the clips in the trailer are found in the real movie, but the context in which they’re given here send a completely different message than the movie’s original sentiment. Here’s further validation to the adage: “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.”

Contributed by Domenica and Elizabeth


Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

The next big thing

Friday, October 29th, 2010

The next big thing Check out this “futuristic” astronaut suit conceptualized in 1961. Luckily for Neil Armstrong, the oversized trashcan look went out of style before we actually reached the moon.

In marketing, trying to predict the future can have equally silly results. Even when we are using research to inform design, we can’t always know what lies ahead. For example, what would we have done differently years ago if we had foreseen the internet and social media?

On the flip side, if the iPod and cell phone had been invented in 1977, what would they have looked like? One artist answered that question with a series of humorous images using common design elements from the ’70s: square corners, old-fashioned fonts, antiquated names (such as the “LapTron”), and a brown and orange color palette. The title of his series, “We are not Time Travelers,” reminds us that although no one can exactly predict the future, we do need to expect the unexpected and stay flexible.

Contributed by Domenica


Anamorphic typography

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Anamorphic typography Graphic designer Thomas Quinn created this optical illusion in a spare room of his parents’ home.

Join Us Summer 2012

Join Us Summer 2012

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012


CASE Online Speaker Series
November 15, 2012
12–1:30 p.m.

Join Brenda Foster, Tina Hay (editor of The Penn Stater), and Jeff Lott (retired editor of Swarthmore College Bulletin) to discuss alumni magazines. More details to come!

…on Facebook
…on Twitter
…on Pinterest


Tweet Charts

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Easily see and measure tweets about your institution, yourself, or your favorite subject:


Do you have comments, questions, or story ideas that you’d like us to cover in an upcoming issue of the Cram Quarterly? If so, email Brenda or call her at 410-467-4672.


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