University News

University Relations Launches 'Beyond the Bell Tower' Blog

April 1, 2010

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MACOMB, IL - - Why was a Western Illinois University alumna recently mentioned in USA Today? How did a recent agriculture graduate become CEO of a company in another country that grows a crop he'd never seen before leaving the U.S.?

Find the answers and the stories behind them—and suggest other great stories—by checking out the new blog developed by University Relations, "Beyond the Bell Tower," at

The blog is part of an ongoing initiative in University Relations to engage prospective and current students, alumni, faculty and the public with the department's existing social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, according to Darcie Shinberger, director of University Relations.

"With the bulk of information that comes in to UR, sometimes we hear a great story that lends itself well to writing an in-depth feature and sending to the media," said Shinberger. "Other times it may be a great piece of news that's a bit quirky or offbeat, or maybe falls between editorial deadlines, so this new blog provides another venue to get the information out quickly and to a wide audience."

Alison McGaughey, public information specialist, developed the concept for the blog as a venue for the department to deliver news and information to its constituents, but in a way that might cover topics not traditionally included in news releases or the University's other primary sources of information. With this in mind, content will be centered around one strict criterion, according to McGaughey: that it be "interesting."

"Right now, 'the tag line' or subtitle is simply 'Fun Stuff You Need to Know about WIU.' So the feel and the overall tone is meant to be engaging for students, parents, alumni—stories that will appeal to everyone," McGaughey said. "Western has so many graduates, faculty, and current students who are doing interesting things, even if those things might not relate directly to their careers, or to their academic majors. The blog will attempt to seek out stories and highlight news that might go 'beyond the academic bell tower,' so to speak."

Another goal is to get traffic in terms of readers' comments, and users' connecting with and sharing of posts via Twitter and other applications.

"Simply sharing a link can start conversation. With the hybrid and viral nature of the web, and the 'Web 2.0' principles of sharing and collaborating, the point of the blog will be to spread the word about interesting things students, alumni and faculty are doing, and for web users to spread the word with each other, too," McGaughey added.

To submit post ideas for the blog, contact McGaughey at, or leave comments on individual posts at

Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (
Office of University Communications & Marketing