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Anthony Cond

Inaugural Statement

portrait of Anthony Cond, in front of full bookshelves

Director, Liverpool University Press

JUNE 2024

Some years ago this organisation pondered its future and decided to rebrand as the Association of University Presses. Still importantly anchored to its North American roots, today AUPresses represents 160 presses across 16 countries. It is able to advocate for UPs from New Zealand and the Netherlands as strongly as it does for those in Nebraska or Nevada. It provides a unique point of connection that brings together disparate yet recognisably similar publishers from around the world, under a shared commitment to ensure academic excellence and disseminate knowledge.

Establishing and maintaining a global space for university presses requires energetic leadership and an agile and committed Central Office staff. Executive Director Peter Berkery and his colleagues are a vital component of the success of the Association. It also requires thoughtful leadership and over the past year I have had the privilege of watching a masterclass from the outgoing President Jane Bunker, galvanising more than 160 volunteers across the Association’s committees, and working in harmony with an outstanding Board of Directors. 

Building upon their hard work, this year I have two simple priorities for the Association. The first is to fully reflect on the opportunity of being a global organisation. The major challenges we face are seldom only local. To name just a few: the cost of publishing and of living, the legislative and the moral importance of ensuring our content is fully accessible, and the ripples of open access policy shifts affect all UPs. But we also have a secret collective superpower in the potential breadth of perspectives open to us— from presses around the world and from UP professionals at all career stages—in the excellent work of our committees, including the Association’s newly formed AI Advisory Group and in the establishment of a Global Partnerships Taskforce to explore the most equitable ways of collaborating with university presses in the Global South. Among our volunteers, in our programming, in the ways in which we engage, there is a distinctive strength in leveraging the breadth of AUPresses.

The second priority is that whilst we look to utilise the breadth of skills and experiences within the Association, we must also engage more fully with our core external constituencies—the disciplines in which we publish, libraries, booksellers. A majority of university presses have a primary focus in the humanities, the disciplines that drive critical thinking, justice, democracy, and our understanding of value, yet the humanities and higher education more generally are under unprecedented pressure. Providing a sustainable, high-quality forum to amplify humanities scholarship has never felt more important. Similarly, libraries and booksellers in both print and digital form continue to face challenging questions around mission and money but both are essential gateways to verifiable knowledge. These are our partners, and these partnerships require our closest attention.

A global perspective and a doubling down on the importance of maximising the dissemination of high-quality peer-reviewed research. Less a novel manifesto and more a restatement of aims we have so often articulated and a part of the essential DNA of UPs, even before the formation of this organisation. Crossing the Atlantic from Yale to Liverpool, the noted biochemist Benjamin Moore observed in 1914:

‘A University Press becomes an essential rather than a luxury to any progressive University where research is being actively prosecuted and knowledge advanced in any domain of the arts or sciences. Such labours must not only be performed but fitly recorded. A University without a Press tends to become a silent University or one with no articulate voice of its own.’  

ما نقش اساسی جامعهٔ جهانی ناشران را، که وظیفهٔ آن تضمین پیشرفت تحصیلی و ترویج دانش است، گسترش می‌دهیم

— AUPresses Mission Statement in Persian