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Bill Holder, director of Publications, is the the editor of "Wesleyan" magazine.
 
Posted 05.02.05

Director of Publications Says "Wesleyan" Magazine is Collaborative Effort

Q: Your history with Wesleyan goes back more than three decades. How did it start?

A: My story with Wesleyan begins in 1971, when I came here as a freshman, graduating in 1975. I ended up working here most of my professional career here in the Office of University Communications, formerly the Office of Public Information.

Q: As director of publications, what are you in charge of?

A: I’m the editor of “Wesleyan" magazine. I plan content for the magazine, write, edit and oversee production, but really, the magazine is a collaborative venture with a number of people here in communications, from beginning to end. I’m glad to be part of this publication, which has been very well received. Our office also produces most of Wesleyan’s publications: everything from invitations to the course catalog.

Q: Sounds like a satisfying career.

A: The opportunities that came with doing the magazine have been very gratifying. I’ve met so many wonderful people on and off campus, and the job presents unending opportunities for personal growth. There are always challenges ahead.

Q: Who is the audience of the magazine?

A: Both campus and alumni. The magazine has various names that reflect its history. The correct name is “Wesleyan: the University Magazine,” but many people still call it older names, such as ‘the Alumni Magazine,’ or ‘Alumnus,’ which I think originated in the single-sex era here. Some people still call it “The Bulletin,” and that name goes way back. It’s funny how these old names stick around.

Q: What was your degree, and what led you into journalism/publications?

A: I actually graduated with a degree in chemistry, and then I went on to graduate school at the University of California at Berkley, wanting to become a research chemist. But after one year, I realized it wasn’t for me.

Q: Then what led you into journalism?

A: I learned mostly through on-the-job training. After I graduated, my Wesleyan connection served me well. I got a job as a science journalist with the American Chemical Society in Washington D.C. and my supervisor had a master’s from Wesleyan. Also, we both knew Max Tishler, who was a professor of chemistry at Wesleyan between 1970 and 1987 and served a term as president of the American Chemical Society. He influenced a lot of people, including me.

Q: How did you end up working at Wesleyan?

A: My wife, Elisabeth, and I wanted to move back to New England, so I came here and worked at the Middletown Press as a reporter for two years. My beat was covering Wesleyan, so I got to know many people here. And when a job opened up in Wesleyan’s public information office, I joined as a writer/editor.

Q: What were you writing/editing?

A: We had a newsletter for faculty and staff called the “Campus Report” and a tabloid for alumni called “WesNews.” I wrote for those, and the magazine, and later started WesOnline, which has since been replaced by the online newsletter.

Q: How has the Office of University Communications changed?

A: The public information office in South College was much smaller. There were only six or seven of us. Now there are 16, and the name changed to the Office of University Communications in 2000 when Justin Harmon was hired as the director. So back then I was doing a little bit of everything, including writing and editing stories for the magazine and writing a lot of press releases. Now there are three departments under the Office of University Communications: Media Relations, headed by David Pesci, which handles the media inquiries, press releases and the online newsletter; Web Management, headed by Jennifer Carlstrom, which handles the design of the bulk of the University’s Web pages; and my department, Publications, which produces the "Wesleyan" magazine and most of Wesleyan’s higher profile publication pieces.

Q: You left Wesleyan for a few years. Where did you end up going?

A: In 1990, I went to Cornell’s news bureau. I was a full-time science writer, and that was an interesting change, as Cornell is a much different institution. My beat was the College of Agriculture, and I wrote articles on everything from cows and apples to molecular biology. I was there three years, until the magazine editor job opened here at Wesleyan and I came back.

Q: What do you enjoy doing after work or on weekends?

A: I work out regularly at the Freeman Athletic center, read, and I like to travel. Recently, I went to visit my daughter in L.A.; other trips have included visits to friends in Ottawa and in Switzerland. Our Swiss friends have a view of Lake Geneva and the Alps to die for. I also am on the Middlesex County United Way board of directors and a member of the Rockfall Foundation, a local conservation and environmental group.

Q: Tell me more about your family.

A: My wife, Liz ‘76, teaches earth science at Rocky Hill High School. I have three children, Anne, who is at USC in LA now; Luke, who will graduate from Wesleyan this spring with the class of ’05, and Zoe, a freshman here at Wesleyan.

Q: Any pets?

A: We have two dogs, Acadia and Kona. We go on lots and lots of dog walks.

By Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection editor