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California Magazine Wins Highest Honors in 2020 CASE Circle of Excellence Awards

June 30, 2020

The Cal Alumni Association (CAA) is proud to announce that California magazine has won highest honors in the 2020 CASE Circle of Excellence Awards. The quarterly publication claimed the Grand Gold for alumni magazines published 4x/year or more. Other winners in the category include the magazines of Dartmouth (Gold), Notre Dame (Silver), and the University of Pennsylvania (Bronze).

CASE is the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, a global nonprofit association dedicated to educational advancement and development. Each year the Circle of Excellence Awards showcase outstanding work in alumni journalism as well as other fields in support of education.

In bestowing the Grand Gold, the CASE judges wrote that California is “a national-caliber magazine” and “an exceptionally lively publication” that “addresses the issues of the day with editorial ambition and visual flair. Concepts are brilliantly conceived and executed… . Headlines are witty, covers compelling, and photos and illustrations dazzling.”

In addition to the magazine award, California Deputy Editor Laura Smith won Silver in the feature writing category for her story on former Cal track star Alysia Montaño and the “pregnancy penalty” in professional sports. The judges called it a “Fantastic piece about the intersection of business, entertainment, sports, culture, family, and perception. Wonderfully introduced through the experiences of an individual.” And alumnus Stephen O’Donnell won a gold for Column/Opinion writing for his moving First Person essay, “Living With Delusions,” about his struggle with schizophrenia. The judges said O’Donnell’s “unembellished account of his life with advanced psychosis allows readers to make the shift from ignorance to education, and from fear to empathy. Beautifully done.”

California Editor in Chief Pat Joseph said the award was especially gratifying given that the magazine was redesigned in 2019. “We didn’t totally reinvent the publication but we did refine it, putting more emphasis on story, less on themes, while adding more bold visual elements to the mix. It’s just really nice to have this validation from our peers, and it’s a real credit to our hardworking staff and the support of CAA.”

In the past several years, the magazine has won Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards from CASE, but this is its first Grand Gold.

Read the award-winning stories.

Elite Athletes and the Pregnancy Penalty

By Laura Smith


Living With Delusions

By Stephen O’Donnell