March 15, 2013 by Julia Casciato
Drexel’s yearbook, The Lexerd, will be publishing its 2011-2012 edition this year, which is also its 100th publication. Unfortunately, due to staffing issues, this edition has been delayed for several months and this could also be the last Lexerd.
Recruiting student volunteers to work on the yearbook has been difficult for the past four years. Natalie Shaak, adviser for The Lexerd and assistant director for Fraternity and Sorority Life, explained that students express interest but often don’t have the necessary time to complete the work for publication.
“I was highly involved in my college newspaper, radio station, literary magazine and yearbook when I was an undergraduate student at Millersville University. Because of this involvement, I had the knowledge and skills to serve as an adviser and an interest in working with students in this voluntary role,” Shaak wrote in an email.
The 2009-2010 yearbook was completed entirely by the professional staff of the University Communications office once all the student volunteers left. In 2010-2011 a few students worked with Shaak, who said she did about 75 percent of the work herself to complete the project. Shaak worked without assistance from student volunteers to complete the 2012 yearbook.
“Yearbooks create a snapshot of campus life. Even if they cannot be representative of every individual, they preserve the trends and events that everyone was exposed to and give students a keepsake to take with them into their adult years. Yearbooks are important. They serve as unofficial history books of the history that we have lived here at Drexel,” Matthias Agne, a pre-junior majoring in materials science and engineering, wrote in an email.
David Ruth, dean of students, and John Cooke, associate dean of students for Campus Engagement, are currently exploring alternate options for the continuation of The Lexerd, instead of halting production altogether.
Online publication is an option that The Lexerd already plans to utilize through Lifepages, an online yearbook company. This would let anyone with a Drexel email address access the yearbook once it is completed, allowing more students to view it. However, this does not address the staffing issue involved with creating the yearbook. One option is to hire an independent contractor to design and edit the yearbook, while another would allow for the creation of two co-op positions during each cycle to work with a permanent adviser.
Currently, there is no projected date as to when a final decision will be made.
“I would be mildly upset if Drexel no longer offered a yearbook. … Perhaps they are a hassle for Drexel to produce, but wouldn’t it speak to this school’s commitment to their students to offer a yearbook regardless of how many benefit from it?” Agne wrote.
On average, the yearbook costs around $35,000 to publish and distribute. This number depends on how many yearbooks are purchased and the number of pages. Advertising sales, senior portrait fees and student activity fee funding cover the cost of the yearbooks. Each yearbook costs approximately $35 to print and mail. Seniors who pay $20 for senior portraits receive a copy after graduation at no extra cost.
“I would purchase a yearbook my senior year. Just as in high school, it would be convenient to have a place for all of my friends to write comments and to have an overview of the campus and campus activities of the year. Seeing how I don’t have many pictures of the Drexel events that I have attended or of the campus, it would be nice to have something with which I can reminisce later in life,” Agne wrote.
The 2012 yearbook has also been reduced to 256 pages from the 288 pages that were printed in the 2011 edition.
To create The Lexerd, the goal is to have the layout completed by the end of the summer term. However, the yearbook is not finalized until after graduation so that commencement photos can be included. The yearbook is mailed to seniors who paid for senior portraits.
If The Lexerd were to stop publishing, senior portraits would still be offered to graduating students. “Without the cost of completing a yearbook, the charge for the portrait session would likely be reduced, and funds would be used to support another program, such as the Drexel Senior Experience,” Shaak wrote. Over 900 seniors sat for senior portraits in 2011, which is the most in Drexel’s history, according to Prestige Portraits.
Drexel’s yearbook has used the name The Lexerd, which is ‘Drexel’ backwards, because the yearbook looks back on a student’s years spent there, according to Shaak. Yearbooks are put into the Library Archives for any community member or student to view.