Category Archives: From the Desk of the Director

From the Desk of the Director: Knowledge and Facts Matter

With fall quarter now well underway, I thought I’d take a moment to update you on the latest news from the University of Washington Press.

It has been an especially busy time for me since I assumed the presidency of the Association of University Presses at our annual meeting this past June. Diversity and inclusion were pervasive themes at the conference this summer thanks in large part to our Mellon-funded University Press Diversity Fellowship Program, which was featured during the opening plenary, two panels, and a breakfast roundtable. Our first Mellon fellow, Niccole Coggins, is now an assistant editor on our permanent staff, and in early June we welcomed our second fellow, Mike Baccam. This is the first program of its kind in university press publishing and we are proud to be taking the lead in increasing diversity in our industry together with our partner presses at MIT, Duke, and Georgia.

To expand on this work, my first initiative as president of the Association was to create the new Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. I am also working on other initiatives, including forming an international working group. I’ve just returned from a board of directors meeting in Washington, DC, where I was also able to participate in a publishing workshop for doctoral and post-doctoral scholars (Kluge Fellows) currently researching a wide variety of topics at the Library of Congress.

Advocating for the value of university presses is one of my main duties as president. A recent piece in Publishers Weekly, which I coauthored with Association executive director Peter Berkery, discusses the importance of scholarship in the current political climate. During this time of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” university presses offer deeply informed, reliable discussions of pressing issues, including questions about climate change, disputes over the meaning of public monuments, and debates about the rights of refugees. As we launch University Press Week on the theme “#LookItUP: Knowledge Matters,” I find myself thinking back to Dan Rather’s words at our annual meeting in June where he told a room full of scholarly publishers: “Our country needs you and your work right now. . . . What you do matters.”

Throughout the year, we at UW Press provide dozens of opportunities to engage in informed discussions at public events with our authors. Please visit our events calendar for more information, and find us and other presses during UP Week online with the hashtag #LookItUP. We hope you’ll join the conversation.

With very best wishes,

Nicole F. Mitchell
Director, University of Washington Press
President, Association of University Presses 2017–2018

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From the Desk of the Director: Books in Common

In May we received exciting news from Western Washington University: the Western Reads committee has chosen a University of Washington Press book, Tulalip, From My Heart: An Autobiographical Account of a Reservation Community, by Harriette Shelton Dover, as their common book for the 2017–18 school year. The committee selected this book by a Tulalip elder in consultation with Indigenous people on and off campus to commemorate the 1969 “Right to be Indian” conference. This gathering drew tribal members from across the region in support of young people working to improve their communities through social and political self-determination. Now, as we approach the conference’s fiftieth anniversary, more than 4,000 incoming Western students, faculty, and staff will engage with Tulalip, From My Heart, Dover’s remarkable story about her tribe’s history, struggles, and powerful ties to land now occupied by others.

Harriette Shelton Dover

Dawn Dietrich, associate professor and director of the Western Reads program, shared her enthusiasm for this selection as a way of fostering collaboration and relationship building around Native American education. The choice of this common book “honors the Coast Salish traditions that defined, and continue to define, this region,” Dietrich told us.

UW Press has played an important role in publishing the stories of Native American and Indigenous communities for almost 100 years. Our list includes memoirs by Coast Salish and Alaska Native writers, tribal dictionaries and grammars, books about Native American art and culture, as well as new work presenting contemporary issues from decolonizing perspectives. Our books are enjoyed by general readers, taught in classes, found in libraries of tribal colleges, and used by scholars and artists in many disciplines.

The Western Reads common book selection is just one example of how communities and readers engage with the work we publish. Another is Promised Land, a new documentary about the Duwamish and Chinook fight for treaty recognition. Several UW Press books “formed the academic framework of the film’s narrative,” as filmmaker Sarah Samudre Salcedo puts it, including Coll Thrush’s Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place, Robert T. Boyd, Kenneth Ames, and Tony Johnson’s Chinookan Peoples of the Lower Columbia, and Jon Daehnke’s forthcoming Chinook Resilience: Heritage and Cultural Revitalization on the Lower Columbia River. The Seattle Theatre Group will present Promised Land on July 6, 2017, at the Neptune Theatre. The screening is free and open to the public and will include a preshow discussion with representatives from the tribes. We hope you can join us.

UW Press is dedicated to publishing books that help communities engage in shared conversations and inform new art and scholarship. We are proud to bring important stories and ideas to life for current and future generations.

We invite you to browse our new and forthcoming Native American and Indigenous publications and other recent catalogs on our website.

Happy reading!

Nicole F. Mitchell, Director
University of Washington Press