Rubor Arts and Humanities Journal Website Transformation

Lillian Boettcher

Lillian Boettcher
Lily is an M.D. candidate, class of 2020, at the University of Utah School of Medicine and 2019 Editor-in-chief, Rubor publication.

Stephen Mossbarger

Stephen Mossbarger
Web Developer

Peter Strohmeyer

Peter Strohmeyer
Senior Web Designer, Supervisor, Web Technology Group

Rubor, 2019 RelaunchRubor 2019 cover, “Postcard to my Dermatologist”, oil on canvas, by Phoebe Draper (UUSOM21)

In partnership with the University of Utah Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library

This summer marks the publication of the seventh print edition of Rubor, Reflections on Medicine from the Wasatch Front, and, notably, the first edition of the journal published online on a transformed website developed by the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library (EHSL) Web Technology group.

The relaunched website garnered all initial submissions for both 2019 journal editions.

Rubor, a literary and arts journal operated by University of Utah School of Medicine (UUSOM) students, shares stories, facilitates conversations, and explores social, cultural and ethical issues through imagery, writing, and other media, in the context of medicine and health. Originally created for UUSOM, it has since expanded to include the greater Utah community and beyond.

Supported by Dr. Susan J. Sample, faculty advisor, and sponsored by the Program in Medical Ethics and Humanities at UUSOM, Rubor publishes a print edition every spring.

The publication was originally founded in 2013 by Dr. Quinn Orb, then a first-year Utah medical student, and Dr. Gretchen Case, current Chief of the Program in Medical Ethics and Humanities.

Agents of Change

In July 2018, then editor-in-chief Kajsa Vlasic (MD ‘19) and associate editor Lily Boettcher (MD ‘20) contacted the EHSL web team to propose a modernized website, featuring easier maintenance, intuitive editing capabilities, and an aesthetic style more consistent with an arts publication.

Over the next year, Rubor student editors led by digital and media associate editor Serena Fang (MD ‘21), along with Dr. Vlasic, Boettcher, Phoebe Draper (MD ’21) and Dr. Sample, collaborated with the EHSL Web Technology Group on this endeavor. The group includes team supervisor and senior designer Peter Strohmeyer, programmer/analyst Stephen Mossbarger, and designer Nicole Paulsen, with assistance from senior systems administrator Mark Keller. The EHSL Digital Publishing Group also contributed, led by Digital Publishing Librarian Nancy Lombardo, along with program manager Bryan Hull, archivist Mike Thelin, and digital publishing coordinators Sy Maestas and Carmin Smoot.

Behind the Scenes

Our multi-unit working group re-initiated the site on the WordPress platform, moving from the previous Drupal platform.  Particular developments include:

  • an online work-submission portal
  • intuitive and friendly editorial authorship tools
  • catalogued metadata management solution
  • redesigned visual aesthetic and navigation
  • outlined and clarified online production workflow process
  • migration of past print-oriented/PDF-contained works to individualized digital posts, easily accessible on the site
  • engaging past, present and future Rubor creators, publishing team members, advising faculty, and readers to keep in touch with each other, and update personal profiles on site

Rich Creative Formats Now Supported

The redeveloped site is now capable of accepting and presenting works in multimedia formats, such as audio and video, previously incompatible with a print publication.  These formats offer a new channel opportunity for creators seeking to connect compellingly with online audiences accustomed to a rich variety of social media offerings; they expand the possibilities for expressive versatility and artistic experiential innovation.

Integrating Past, Present and Future Communities

The website now preserves in perpetuity the contributions of all past editors, staff, and creators. Every issue is indexed and searchable on the site, as well as within the Library’s digital archive (collected in the Solr Phalcon digital asset management system by the University of Utah Marriott Library). This collection of Rubor material currently includes over a hundred individual works of art and writing.

Additionally, the website facilitates continuous stakeholder engagement, in contrast with the previous once-yearly print-run, permitting timely responses to current issues, especially pertinent in the milieu of medicine. In this regard, Rubor is currently developing a forum for respondents to submit short essays and engage in conversations on topical issues in the ethics and humanities.

While there is no substitute for ink on paper — the journal will continue to print a hard copy of its annual issue — the new website expands the publication’s previous capabilities. Most notably, it enables Rubor to engage with a broader audience on a global level, and function as a digital community, or “hub,” for the arts and humanities.

View Rubor, Reflections on Medicine from the Wasatch Front


Rubor Vision Statement

Rubor seeks to be an instrument of humanism and a creative forum for the humanities across the University of Utah School of Medicine and family of University Health institutions. On behalf of readers and contributors in Salt Lake City, the greater Utah community, the United States, and countries hosting branch campuses and services of the University of Utah, Rubor provides a sense of community, belongingness, and expression of humanity, in the context of health and medicine. Read full statement

Spencer S. Eccles Mission Statement

The mission of the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library is to advance and transform education, research, and health care through dynamic technologies, evidence application, and collaborative partnerships. The Library contributes to the success of health professionals, students, researchers and the community. Read full statement

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