For our cover story, we asked UVA experts in a wide range of fields to tell us what they glimpse over the horizon. They conjured a world of drone deliveries, driverless traffic jams and subdermal sensors streaming data to our doctors.

Richard Gard

Just please don’t send him my blood pressure, not just now. To bring you that brave new world, we’ve had to deal with this old one. If you’re seeing this in print, you’re likely seeing it a touch late, and the paper likely has a different touch. If not, it’s a miracle.

Global supply-chain problems have hit the publishing industry. Everyone’s scrambling for paper. When we call our printer, which we’ve been doing a lot lately, our contact practically recites the reasons as he picks up.

For years the paper mills have been reducing capacity, overestimating the decline in demand for publication stock. Now they’re redirecting their wood pulp to the insatiable packaging and construction industries (in case you thought any of this was saving trees). Labor shortages in the mills, the warehouses and the cabs of semitrucks have slowed the flow of paper rolls to printing plants. Overseas suppliers have even more problems. But that’s moot until their cargo ships can find berths at stacked-up U.S. ports.

Print is only one part of the Virginia Magazine media mix, which includes our monthly email, website and posts on the Alumni Association’s social media. Each of those plays a role in keeping alumni informed. None of them is the same as print—the feel-it-in-your-hands, smell-the-ink, feast-your-eyes-without-frying-your-retinas sensation of curling up with a real-life magazine.

That’s not just me talking. It’s you as well. We continually poll readers on how frequently they want to receive hard copy, and whether we should move more, or all, online. In the most recent survey, 88 percent said they prefer getting a printed Virginia Magazine at least four times a year; some would like us to produce it monthly. It’s not just the older generations. Seventy-nine percent of respondents under 40—including 81 percent of those under 30—prefer the printed book quarterly or more often. Mind you, it’s an online survey, which ought to overrepresent the digerati.

Our printer tells us the supply constraints will ease, not that he can say when. He says we’re in a perfect storm. We know about those. We have a splashy feature on some famous ones on Grounds. Enjoy it along with the rest of our Spring edition. May it have reached you before summer. Because, man, don’t get me started about the U.S. Postal Service.

Richard Gard (Col ’81)
Vice President, Communications, UVA Alumni Association