Faculty Advisor Sara Oswald celebrated her 20th Indianhead yearbook


The 2008 edition of the Indianhead yearbook is Faculty Advisor Sara Oswald’s 20th at UNC Pembroke.

Sara OswaldOh sure, there were headaches and deadline pressures and a few monumental disasters, Oswald said in an interview from her new headquarters in the University Center Annex. The bottom line is that students are the heart and soul of the publication.

“I’ve worked with a lot of talented and dedicated students over the years,” Oswald said. “I really have come to love it because it allows me to work with students in a collaborative way; it allows me to work closely with students outside the classroom.”

It wasn’t always so. Oswald became the faculty advisor in 1988, and in 1990, she wrote in an official communication that one of her goals was to find a replacement for herself within five years.

“I didn’t realize how much I would come to love it,” she said.

Oswald does a lot at UNCP. She is editor of the Academic Catalog, managing editor of ReVisions, the annual publication of best student essays, and works on The Beacon newsletter for the Department of English, Theatre and Languages.

She also teaches courses in British Literature before 1790, Computer Assisted Editing and Publication Design, English Usage, Sentence Mastery and Punctuation and Freshman Composition.

A university yearbook is a large operation, and the 2008 edition of the Indianhead had a staff of 30, and the 2008 edition is 224 pages.

“Our budget doubled over the years, and this is the first edition to be produced 100 percent digitally,” she said. “We got it out three weeks ahead of schedule; technology is great when it works.”

This spring, Oswald gave a presentation to the Columbia Scholastic Press Association Convention titled “Twenty Years of Changing Technology: Lessons Learned and Strategies for the Future.”

“I asked them to imagine a world without PhotoShop, digital cameras, DVDs, email, the World Wide Web, cell phones and so on,” Oswald said recalling her first years with the Indianhead. “Their response was ‘OMG, how did you even live back then?’”

Technology may have changed (“anybody remember 51/4-inch floppies?”), but the supply of good students on the Indianhead staff has remained constant, Oswald said. Many students made huge contributions over the years, but several stand out, including the 2008 editor Jennifer Key.

 “Jennifer was one of those students who make it possible,” she said. “Jennifer took over in mid-year this year, and she did the same thing in 2007. In all, she worked five years with us.

“Sarah Lynn Brown was editor for two books also,” Oswald said. “She worked several years before becoming editor; she really enjoyed it.

“Allison Alvarez was editor for three years including the year we made the transition to desktop publishing,” she said. “Allison was editor for the 50th anniversary edition in 1995.

“Joel Beachum was never editor, but he has contributed thousands of photographs over many years,” Oswald said. “He worked on this edition too.”

As Oswald contemplates the future of the Indianhead, she has few regrets.

“At the end of the day, very few people get to hold up a finished product with as much pride as I have over the years,” she concluded. “It’s been a great run—and it’s not over yet.”