Gannon University’s Student-Produced Totem Wins National Award

Posted: February 5, 2016

Gannon University's student-produced Totem was awarded first-place with special merit for the fifth consecutive year by the American Scholastic Press Association (ASPA), and, for the first time, was also awarded first-place for its outstanding design concept.

Totem earned 990 points out of 1000 in the categories of content coverage, organization, design, presentation and creativity.

Totem is a literary arts magazine that compiles work from the Gannon community and is produced annually by Gannon students. The ASPA competition is open to all colleges across the United States. Totem was entered in the category of publications from colleges with an enrollment of over 2501 students. Totem has been awarded first-place or first-place with special merit every year since 1996.

As described by Berwyn Moore, an English professor and adviser to the magazine, the name Totem holds much significance to the idea of a community created artistic piece.

"A totem pole is a Native American art piece that represents the community," Moore said. "That is what Totem is - a binding of the Gannon community through art."

From the binding cover to the last page of the magazine, artistic creation is the overarching idea when designing the issue. The 2015 winning issue was designed in an accordion style. The 2015 editor, and recent graduate, Samantha Janik '15, created the idea, and the books were later bound by hand.

Moore said the editor for each year is in charge of determining the artistic design of the binding and works hand-in-hand with Gannon's director of creative services, Andrew Lapiska, and the Gannon Press to make their innovative ideas come to life.

The small staff judges and reviews all the submissions in the fall semester with help from artists and faculty, and begins the publication process in the spring. Moore said all submissions are judged without the creators' names being known.

Students, faculty, staff and alumni submit literary pieces of fiction, nonfiction, drama, poetry, creative nonfiction and all forms of art, including sculptures to be judged and considered for inclusion in the publication.