University publishing evolves, set to broaden mission

July 14, 2010 | News, UToday
By Vicki L. Kroll

The UT Urban Affairs Center Press has become The University of Toledo Press.

Members of the English Department and External Affairs signed a memorandum of understanding that states publishing will continue with faculty and graduate students responsible for editing, and staff in the University Marketing Office taking on graphic design and promotion.

“We had been incubated by the Urban Affairs Center for several years, but it was never our intention for that to be a permanent press relationship,” said Joel Lipman, professor of English, who wrote the memorandum and is co-editor of the University Press. “This is very exciting. It gives us a chance to rethink our mission.”

Established in 2002, the Urban Affairs Center Press focused on publishing books of interest to readers in northwest Ohio and the western Lake Erie region. Works highlighted area individuals, institutions and communities.

“Originally, we were only going to do one book, Hungarian American Toledo, based on community research conducted by the Urban Affairs Center,” said Dr. Tom Barden, professor of English, director of the Honors Program and co-editor of the University Press. “The book did well financially. Because we’re a nonprofit, we put the money back into the center to do another book, The Irish in Toledo. And it snowballed from there.”

Along the way, Lipman suggested including fiction, poetry and photography to go with the scholarly nonfiction.

“As the University Press, our mission can be more national in scope,” Barden said. “It’s still going to be a relatively small venture since it’s not funded by a UT budget; we have to stand on our own feet financially.”

Thanks to What a Time It Was: Interviews With Northwest Ohio Veterans of World War II, UT’s publishing efforts are standing tall. Published by the Urban Affairs Center Press last November, the book written by Andrew “Bud” Fisher has been a hot-seller. Barden said more than 1,500 copies have been purchased, generating significant funding for future projects.

“The success of What a Time It Was prompted us to go to the administration and suggest that we expand the operation,” Barden said.

“Bud Fisher’s book with its ties to the Veterans History Project enhanced its visibility,” Lipman added. “That is an exception; marketing is a struggle for most writers. Working with the University Marketing Office should be an enormous asset.”

“We look forward to being part of The University of Toledo Press,” said Lawrence J. Burns, vice president for external affairs and interim vice president for diversity and equity. “Our award-winning graphic designers will continue to use their creativity on these quality publications, which will enhance the reputation of the University.”

Students in the English Department also will benefit from the new collaboration.

Lipman said the University Press will provide the potential for advanced undergraduate departmental and interdisciplinary course development, independent study and press internships, as well as elevate the department’s visibility as books are reviewed and marketed regionally and nationally.

Dr. Sara Lundquist, associate professor and chair of English, said, “The English Department considers itself fortunate to ally with the UT Press, interested as we are in quality works of literature, history and social science seeing publication and reaching audiences.”

And the College of Graduate Studies has dedicated a graduate assistant to the University Press. Tricia Salata, an incoming student pursuing a master’s degree in English, will start working in August. She is attending the Summer Publishing Institute at New York University.

“I selected Tricia primarily because of her serious interest in a career in publishing,” said Dr. Christina Fitzgerald, associate professor of English. “Although I think Tricia is interested in literary and arts/culture magazine publishing, the experience at UT with an academic press will give her more experience and knowledge to draw on as she pursues her career.

“Our students come to our MA in English literature program for a variety of reasons, and we frequently have students interested in publishing careers,” Fitzgerald added. “This new graduate assistantship will be an invaluable opportunity for those students.”

“Hopefully, this will be a continuing position,” Lipman said. “We’ll nurture that position, which will bring the press closer to the curricular and educational side of the University. It’ll be a chance to learn about and work with the production side of publishing.”

Last month, The University of Toledo Press published its first book, The Relevant University: Making Community and Economic Engagement Matter, which was written by President Lloyd Jacobs and Eva Klein.

Future works will include Arab Americans in Toledo by Dr. Samir Abu-Absi, professor emeritus of English, and From Institutions to Independence: A History of People With Disabilities in Northwest Ohio by Barbara Floyd, director of the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections, and Kim Brownlee, manuscripts librarian.

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