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Kathryn Conrad

Inaugural Presidential Talk

Director, University of Arizona Press

June 2019

It is an honor to have been elected president of this Association.

I attended my first Annual Meeting in Naples, Florida, in 1991. I also became a bit of an AUPresses geek after attending the annual business meeting there, which is open to all attendees. I confess to finding the roll call, in which the Executive Director of the Association tallies the number of voting members present to ensure that a quorum has been reached, strangely scintillating. It suggests in just a few moments the collective impact of the work we do at our home institutions—the work we do to advance scholarship, to preserve cultural heritage, and to build the scholarly record. Today that roll call includes an increasingly diverse set of members from around the world whose commitment to quality defines the university press brand. At a time when misinformation, disinformation, and “fake news” feel like they have become the norm, valuing expertise can feel like a radical act. This is the essence of what we as university presses do.

As Jennifer noted, community and collaboration are hallmarks of this association. Much of what I know about publishing I have learned from people in this room and many rooms like this. I found marketing mentors in Emily Young and Susan Schott, longtime marketing directors at Duke and Kansas respectively. I learned the business from a crack team of sales reps at Columbia that included Mark Saunders, Michael Donatelli, and Michael McCullough, all of whom went on to make their own marks in our industry. As we honor Mark this week with a blog tour about the people who make university press publishing happen (, please take a moment to think about the individuals who have supported you in your publishing career.

Another hallmark of our collective is that we strive to do better. The Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowship Program was launched by the University of Washington Press, the MIT Press, Duke University Press, and the University of Georgia Press. It benefits our entire community. Now in its second round of funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and with new participating presses, the program has also inspired others to seek external funding for similar fellowships to keep the pipeline growing.

Six new fellows were announced this week, some of whom are here in Detroit, and whom I would like to introduce. If you are in the room, please stand when I call your name:

  • Elizabeth Murice Alexander joins Northwestern University Press.
  • María García joins the MIT Press.
  • Hanni Jalil joins the University of Washington Press.
  • Dominque Moore joins the Ohio State University Press.
  • Noor Shawaf joins the University of Chicago Press.
  • Alexis Siemon joins Cornell University Press.

Welcome to the Annual Meeting and welcome to this community of publishers.

Much of the work of the Association is done by volunteers—nearly 100 of them serving on committees and task forces—with the support of our stellar Central Office staff. These Committees of the Board and the Association:

  • help manage Association finances
  • promote our brand
  • monitor and share important industry developments
  • document and maintain best practices
  • create opportunities for professional development and exchange of ideas
  • and engage our constituents within the academy and beyond.

I would like to thank the incoming committee chairs for their leadership. They are:

  • Acquisitions: Beth Bouloukos, (Amherst College Press/Lever Press)
  • Admissions & Standards, Dennis Lloyd (Wisconsin)
  • Annual Meeting 2020 Program Committee, Laurie Matheson (Illinois)
  • Audit: Donna Shear (Nebraska)
  • Book, Jacket, and Journal Show: Joel Coggins (Pittsburgh)
  • Business Systems: Brad Hebel (Columbia)
  • Digital Publishing: Bonnie Russell (Wayne State)
  • Editorial, Design, and Production: Kelly Finefrock-Creed (Alabama)
  • Our first Equity, Justice, and Inclusion Committee: Gita Manaktala (MIT)
  • Faculty Outreach: Ilene Kalish (NYU)
  • Intellectual Property and Copyright: Bryan Birchmeier (Michigan)
  • Investment: Robbie Dircks (UNC)
  • Journals: Emily Taylor (Ohio State)
  • Library Relations: Liz Hamilton (Northwestern)
  • Marketing: Kathryn Pitts (Notre Dame)
  • Nominating: Nicole Mitchell (Washington)
  • Professional Development: Rafael Chaiken (SUNY)

Thank you all for your service.

Finally, I would like to extend a special welcome to our newcomers. I hope you find this conference as energizing as I found my first AUPresses meeting in Naples. Whether you are new in your career or just new to publishing, I urge you to get involved—on the listservs, the webinars and hangouts, and on committees. I also urge you to ask questions and to push us to challenge our assumptions. The university press of the future may not look like the university press of today, but it will keep quality and expertise at its core. I have a lot left to learn about publishing, and I expect to learn it from you. You are the future of AUPresses.

Last night, Lauren Hood reminded us that we are all agents of social change. Thank you all for your tireless work as publishers, and thank you too for the opportunity to serve as President of the Association of University Presses.

Peb tau nce qib siab rau lub luag haujlwm tseem ceeb hauv zej zog thoob ntiaj teb los ntawm cov tswv luam ntaub ntawv lub zeem muag los mus tsim kho kev kawm ntawv kom zoo thiab saib xyuas kev txawj ntse.

— AUPresses Mission Statement in Hmong