Thirty-three years after Yale began producing alumnae, the Yale Alumni Magazine will have its first female editor.

Kathrin Lassila ’81, a former Rhodes Scholar and editor of OnEarth magazine, will begin as editor on April 1, 2003. She will replace former editor Carter Wiseman ’68, who stepped down this spring after 16 years as editor to become a lecturer in the School of Architecture.

Lassila plans to redesign the magazine and use more freelance writers, said Weili Cheng ’77, chairwoman of Yale Alumni Publications, Inc.

Lassila could not be reached for comment Monday, but she said in a written statement that she is honored to be entrusted with the stewardship of the magazine.

“Yale is an extraordinary place, full of fascinating and complex subjects for a magazine to cover. And there couldn’t be a better, more challenging group of readers for any editor than the Yale alumni,” Lassila said.

The Yale Alumni Magazine, the principal periodical published for alumni of the University, has a circulation of 70,000.

Harvey Applebaum ’59, former chairman of the magazine’s board and chairman of the search committee for the position, said he is excited to welcome Lassila to the magazine.

“We didn’t as an objective seek either a woman or a Yalie,” Applebaum said. “We certainly considered it a bonus as we wound up with a woman graduate of the university, but it was not an objective.”

Besides Applebaum, the search committee consisted of three members of the Yale Alumni Publications Board of Directors — Paul Steiger ’64, managing editor of the Wall Street Journal; Graduate School Dean Susan Hockfield; and University Secretary Linda Lorimer.

Cheng said the search committee used an outside consultant and began the three-and-a-half month search with a list of 68 prospective candidates. Of these, she said, the committee deemed 23 appropriate for further consideration and then narrowed the pool to nine candidates, whom the committee personally interviewed.

Cheng said the committee was unanimous in recommending Lassila to the board of directors for approval, and Applebaum said the board unanimously accepted the recommendation.

Applebaum said he thinks Lassila will bring vitality to the magazine.

“Given that the former editor decided to resign, the search committee wanted to ensure that the new editor would come in with sufficient expertise, energy, and vision for the position,” Applebaum said, “and I think Kathrin has it.”

Cheng said she has already spoken with Lassila about the future of the publication.

“She and I have had some discussions about her vision for the magazine,” Cheng said. “We are certainly looking at a redesign of the magazine and maybe using freelance writers more frequently.”

Applebaum said Steiger’s support of Lassila helped the committee to select her, as Steiger is an “expert” in the journalism industry.

“Time will tell whether we succeeded,” Applebaum said, “but we think we did.”