New York, NY, and Washington, DC—Author and teacher Ned Stuckey-French (1950-2019) was named the inaugural Association of University Presses (AUPresses) Stand UP Award honoree and celebrated with a short video during the Association’s virtual 2020 Annual Meeting yesterday.
The Stand UP Award was established by the AUPresses Board of Directors to honor people who through their words and actions have done extraordinary work to support, defend, and celebrate the university press community. The award is intended to recognize advocates who are not on staff at a member press but who stand up from within the communities that presses work with, speak to, and serve.
Ned Stuckey-French personified the very spirit of this award. An associate professor of English at Florida State University and an accomplished university press author and adviser, Stuckey-French played a central role in mobilizing support in 2012 to prevent the University of Missouri Press from closing. A suddenly announced plan to close the 54-year-old press in May 2012 was reversed by late summer after sustained outcry from prominent authors like William Least Heat-Moon, scores of readers across the state, and scholars around the world. Stuckey-French, author and longtime university press sales rep Bruce Miller, and other Missouri advocates successfully inspired and corralled this local-to-global response, alerting regional and national journalists of the threat and leveraging the power of social media.
“That the University of Missouri Press continues to survive and, indeed, thrive today, is in my mind a most fitting tribute to Ned,” said the press’s director David Rosenbaum. “He had faith in university press publishing.”
When he spoke about the Missouri advocacy work as part of a panel during the Association’s 2013 Annual Meeting, Stuckey-French firmly situated the value of university presses within higher education and, as such, as an investment that’s worth defending. “People respect learning and see its worth. If we talk to them, they understand the role that university presses play in education,” he said, “but we have to talk to them.” He continued to advocate on behalf of threatened university presses, particularly those affiliated with public universities, standing up and speaking out in support of the University of Akron Press in 2015 and the University Press of Kentucky in 2018, among others. About the Kentucky publisher, for example, he wrote, “Defending the Press is defending public education.”
“Ned’s activism transformed the way our community mobilizes,” remarked Greg Britton, editorial director of Johns Hopkins University Press and an AUPresses board member who was instrumental in the creation of this award. “In standing up for us, Ned taught us how to stand up for ourselves.”
Stuckey-French taught writing at Florida State, where he also directed the Graduate Certificate in Publishing and Editing Program. A former labor organizer, he earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard University, his master’s from Brown University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. He published books with several university presses during his career, including The American Essay in the American Century (University of Missouri Press, 2011) and Essayists on the Essay (University of Iowa Press, 2012). Although not originally a university press project, Writing Fiction—which he and Elizabeth Stuckey-French coauthored with Janet Burroway—was published in its tenth edition by the University of Chicago Press in 2019.
The Association recognizes and thanks Ned Stuckey-French for his stalwart support of university press publishing and for helping to create the model for mobilizing the greater community of scholars and readers to support threatened presses.
About the Association of University Presses
AUPresses is an organization of more than 150 international nonprofit scholarly publishers. Since 1937, the Association of University Presses advances the essential role of a global community of publishers whose mission is to ensure academic excellence and cultivate knowledge. The Association holds intellectual freedom, integrity, stewardship, and diversity and inclusion as core values. AUPresses members are active across many scholarly disciplines, including the humanities, arts, and sciences, publish significant regional and literary work, and are innovators in the world of digital publishing.