The University of Chicago Press to participate in Andrew W. Mellon Foundation–supported diversity program

January 24, 2019
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The University of Chicago Press is proud to announce that it will participate in a program supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation designed to diversify academic publishing by offering apprenticeships in acquisitions departments.

A four-year, $1,205,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will provide for three annual cycles of editorial fellows at six university presses: the University of Chicago Press, the MIT Press, Cornell University Press, the Ohio State University Press, University of Washington Press, and Northwestern University Press.

This new grant builds on the success of the initial 2016 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which funded the first cross-press initiative of its kind in the United States to address the marked lack of diversity in the academic publishing industry. Graduates of the first fellowship program hold professional positions at university presses across the country, including at Columbia University Press, the MIT Press, University of Virginia Press, the Ohio State University Press, and the University of Washington Press. Additionally, for the four participating presses, the initial grant expanded applicant pools, improved outreach to underrepresented communities, created more equitable preliminary screening practices in hiring, and enabled dedicated attention to diversity, equity, and inclusion overall.

The 2016 grant also served as a catalyst for broader changes at the partner presses and within the AUPresses as a larger organization. “Diversity is one of AUPresses’ core values. As such, we are proud to partner in the expansion of this significant program,” says AUPresses Executive Director Peter Berkery. “Our participation in the original initiative over the last three years has led, not only to more inclusive programming choices at our annual conferences and webinars, but also to the formation of a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, which will evolve into a Standing Committee to help us sustain momentum in this area of vital importance to our community, higher education, and the entire publishing industry.”

University of Chicago Press director Garrett Kiely said, “We welcome this opportunity to help create a more diverse group of publishing professionals in scholarly publishing.   We hope that our staff will reflect the growing diversity of our authors and audiences.  The Mellon grant will support our continuing efforts to hire the very best professionals by tapping into a larger and more diverse pool of talent, drawing in people who might not have considered a career in publishing.”

This new grant offers opportunities for more sustained engagement with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion among the new partner presses and the university press community more broadly. “Continuing the fellowship program will enable us to focus on longer-term issues of retention and leadership development among the program’s participants,” says Larin McLaughlin, Editor in Chief of the University of Washington Press and principal investigator on the grant. “With this new grant, we want to provide the opportunity for new presses to participate in the program while benefitting from the experience of the original partner presses.”

Gita Manaktala, Editorial Director of the MIT Press, comments, “The fellows have inspired a strong sense of responsibility among partner presses, which have demonstrated this in several ways: by developing more inclusive press environments, by opening processes to welcome the fellows’ perspectives and input into the daily work of acquisitions, and by providing fellows with focused career advice for job placement and professional development.”

The first and second grants combined provide for a total of 30 fellows in six years, which will generate marked shifts in acquisitions staff across university presses not possible without this kind of dedicated funding.

For more information about the University of Chicago Press or the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Diversity Fellowship program, please contact University of Chicago Press Promotions & Marketing Communications Director Carrie Olivia Adams: carrieadams@uchicago.edu

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