Every product eventually ends up with a new, improved version. The University of Utah alumni publication is no exception.

In the next few days, 120,000 alumni, friends of the university, faculty and staff will find in their mailboxes the inaugural issue of Continuum, a slick, full-color, 48-page magazine. The new quarterly magazine replaces the University of Utah Review, a tabloid-size newspaper read by U. alumni, faculty and staff since 1967.The magazine will be produced jointly by the U. Alumni Association and the U. Public Relations Department.

The switch to slick was not an overnight decision. For the past two years, U. officials have researched the publications of peer institutions nationwide. They found that most have abandoned less-colorful, tabloid-size newspapers in favor of more jazzy magazines.

After much research and debate, U. officials settled on a magazine, deciding it would better reach their audience and would project a quality image both on campus and off.

"We thought it was important for a major research university, the flagship university of the state system, to have a high-quality, glossy magazine of this nature," said Ted R. Capener, U. vice president for university relations and Continuum publisher.

Both Capener and Continuum editor J. Byron Sims, who edited the Review for the past 12 years, believe the new, expanded format will allow greater diversity, presenting the opportunity to showcase U. programs and individuals in-depth. It will also increase the amount of available space for alumni news and will feature lots of eye-catching color.

In the first issue, the principal feature articles spotlight the university's growing genetics research, the 100th anniversary of the student newspaper, The Daily Utah Chronicle, and coach Rick Majerus with his winning Ute basketball team.

Sims' second issue, which will be published in August, will explore the teaching of ethnic groups on campus and will include a profile of the U.'s new president, if he or she is selected before the magazine's deadline.

Most of the magazine will be written by the U.'s public relations staff, although Sims plans to occasionally draw from a pool of alumni writers. He plans to pay contributors "a small fee."

Such a major format change doesn't come cheap. The U. will pump its entire Review budget of $30,000 into the Continuum. But that doesn't come anywhere near the $150,000 price tag for the year's four issues, which will be published in May, August, November and February.

Additional help will come from eight corporate sponsors, who have committed to buy full-page, color advertisements for at least one year. The U. hopes to attract more sponsors.

In addition, only one issue a year will come free to alumni. To receive the other three issues, alumni must join the alumni association and pay the yearly dues - $24 for a single membership or $32 for a joint membership.

U. officials expect a press run of 20,000 to 25,000 for the paid subscriptions, compared with 120,000 recipients of the free edition.