Arts Society & Culture

Mellon grant to help academic publishers increase workforce diversity

The University of Georgia Press joins groups to create the University Press Diversity Fellowship program

Athens, Ga. – A four-year, $682,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded to the University of Washington will help four university presses and the Association of American University Presses create a pipeline program to diversify academic publishing by offering apprenticeships in acquisitions departments.

The collaborative project involves the University of Georgia Press, the University of Washington Press, the MIT Press, Duke University Press and the AAUP. The University Press Diversity Fellowship program will create cohorts of four fellows per year for three years. The program will recruit fellows who have significant personal experience and engagement with diverse communities and a demonstrated ability to bring the understandings gleaned from such engagement to the daily work of academic publishing. Fellows will have the opportunity to connect with one another and engage with industry colleagues at two AAUP annual meetings.

“The University of Georgia is proud to partner with other leading university presses to enhance diversity in academic publishing,” said Pamela Whitten, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “By providing talented individuals with professional development opportunities, this fellowship program will benefit the profession for years to come.”

The University Press Diversity Fellowship program is the first cross-press initiative of its kind in the U.S. to address the lack of diversity in the publishing industry. Although university presses have long fostered and supported diversity-related fields such as Native and Indigenous studies; African-American studies; women’s, gender and sexuality studies; and Asian-American studies, the fellowship program represents an investment in creating career development opportunities and a supportive environment for diversity publishing.

“AAUP congratulates the AAUP member presses participating in the Diversity Fellowship program,” said Peter Berkery, AAUP executive director. “Because diversity is a core AAUP value, we are eager to welcome Diversity Fellows to our future annual meetings. I know other member presses will be interested in this program, and I look forward to helping our community build on its success.”

The fellowship program aims to develop best-practice strategies and tactics for fostering diversity at all levels of the profession. Further, this collaboration will focus attention on the centrality of diversity in all its forms to the future of global academic discourse and, it is hoped, will inspire related efforts to prioritize diversity more broadly in the publishing industry.

“One of the prime joys of our job as editors in the university press world is that we publish books that truly make a difference to academic and broader communities,” said Mick Gusinde-Duffy, editor in chief of UGA Press. “We’re taking positive steps toward a more diverse cohort of publishing professionals that takes transformative publishing to a whole new level.”

The program will offer each fellow opportunities for one-on-one mentoring as well as monthly cross-press video conferences led by staff at partner presses, covering a range of topics designed to supplement the hands-on training. Outreach and recruitment by the program’s selection committee began this month, with the first cohort of Diversity Fellows starting their apprenticeships in June.

“While university presses regularly collaborate on projects of national scope, nothing like this has ever been undertaken,” said Lisa Bayer, director of UGA Press. “Many thanks to the Mellon Foundation for sharing our vision of an experiential apprenticeship program that will enrich, expand and improve our contribution to scholarship.”

About the UGA Press
Since its founding in 1938, the primary mission of the University of Georgia Press has been to support and enhance the university’s place as a major research institution by publishing outstanding works of scholarship and literature by scholars and writers throughout the world. The UGA Press is the oldest and largest book publisher in the state, currently publishes 60-70 new books a year, and has a long history of publishing significant scholarship, creative and literary works, and books about the state and the region for general readers. To learn more about the UGA Press and its publications, authors and events, visit www.ugapress.org.