Tag Archives: Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowship

The Future of Diversifying Publishing: Reflections from Hanni Jalil, the 2019-2020 Mellon University Press Diversity Fellow

Academic publishing is a fascinating world, as my time as the Mellon University Press Diversity Fellow at the University of Washington Press has shown me. During my fellowship, I have met and worked with intellectually curious and critical individuals committed to collaborative work, to producing scholarship and knowledge as a public good, and to opening doors to diverse voices in publishing and in the academy. But what should commitment to diversity really look like in an industry that is still 76 % White? When we look at editorial departments, the numbers are less encouraging: a recent survey on diversity in publishing revealed that Black/Afro-American/ Afro-Caribbean colleagues in these departments make up only 1% of all editorial positions. Folks that identify as Latinx/Latino/Mexican make up only 2%, and Native Americans or First Nations colleagues represent less than 1% of all editorial jobs.

The Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowship, spearheaded by Larin McLaughlin, editor in chief at the University of Washington Press and this year’s AUPresses Constituency Award winner, is a pipeline program designed to address this problem, with a particular emphasis on diversifying acquisitions departments at participating presses and beyond. “Fixing” the diversity problem in publishing necessitates more than increasing representation of BIPOC people across the industry. We should also reflect about diversity in terms of representation for our LGTBQ+ colleagues as well as in terms of neurodiversity and ability. However, here, I want to focus on the need to provide spaces and retention practices that encourage BIPOC folks to enter, stay, and thrive in the publishing industry.

Undoubtedly, those of us who have participated in this fellowship have benefited from this opportunity. During the fourteen months I worked at the press, I learned about the acquisitions process through formal and informal mentoring opportunities and conversations with my colleagues Mike Baccam, Lorri Hagman, Neecole Bostick, Andrew Berzanskis, and Larin McLaughlin. I have also had the privilege of sharing this experience with an incredible cohort of fellows past and present, whose support and mentorship has been invaluable. Because of the UW Press’s incredibly collaborative spirit, I also had the opportunity to learn from other colleagues in editorial design and production, marketing, and in rights and contracts.

I’m leaving the fellowship with experiences and lessons that will continue to shape my professional journey, so in my mind there is no question that the Mellon Fellowship is a significant resource and intervention to challenge the industry’s inequities and an amazing opportunity. But what will happen when the program ends? What happens at presses where there are no analogous programs? We need more than programs like this fellowship to fix problems that are structural and for which there are no easy solutions. Coming up with ways to solve the lack of diversity in publishing requires an industry-wide commitment to radically transform the visible and invisible structures that make academic publishing a predominantly white industry. In this post, I would like to focus on three types of barriers to inclusion, which the industry must face head-on. The first, the need to reimagine our outreach and hiring practices across departments; the second, the need to build meaningful and engaged mentoring relationships with BIPOC folks who enter publishing; and the third, the need to establish pay equity across the industry.

The first barrier speaks to the question of how to make diversity not a platitude or afterthought but a central goal in our outreach and hiring practices. Make this an intention and purpose in all of your efforts. What would happen if we gave the candidate’s engagement with and commitment to diversity the same weight we give the rest of their professional experience? Think about the transformative potential of these considerations and make them central to your outreach and hiring practices.

The second barrier speaks to the value of fostering meaningful and engaged mentoring relationships with BIPOC folks in publishing. Mentorship can make a difference as an effective retention strategy. Consider how your BIPOC colleagues feel about entering and working in an industry where the majority of folks who work in it are white. Here are some possible fears: Will I be tokenized? Will I face micro-aggressions? Will I be encouraged to speak-up? Will my opinion and viewpoints matter? The most effective pedagogies are those where educators think about and design their courses not with the average student in mind (thinking in terms of “average” is a fraught concept, anyway), but in ways that unlock individual potential, while acknowledging that the diversity of our life experiences is a constituent part of how we learn. Meaningful and engaged mentorship is similar to the role of instructors and facilitators in that it requires intentionality and cultural responsiveness. Make establishing a mentoring relationship intentional, provide guidance, be proactive about meeting the needs of your mentee, and, lastly, open spaces for your mentee to approach you with uncomfortable or hard conversations.

Lastly, think about the urgency of establishing pay equity across the industry, particularly for folks in entry-level positions. Retention strategies require us to think about our colleagues’ material realities. Should we be asking our colleagues in entry-level positions to sacrifice their financial stability and well-being in order to stay in publishing? Most of us would agree the answer is no. Let us go a step further: because publishing is an apprenticeship-based industry, where moving from entry-level positions to mid-career or managerial positions takes a considerable investment of time, are there expected sacrifices ultimately matched in compensation, possibilities of advancement, and job security? Can BIPOC people or folks who come from low-income families, folks who are first-generation students, who have familial responsibilities, or who do not have networks of financial support really assume this sacrifice? Now think about the ways that oppression and exclusions intersect and overlap, and ask yourself if promoting pay equity and paying higher livable wages is not also a necessary component of the industry’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

We all have privileges, some more than others, but if publishing is serious about overcoming the historical and structural barriers that keep the industry predominantly white, we need to take action. While implementing diversity initiatives like the Mellon Fellowship is a step in the right direction, it must be one of many steps on the path to transformative change.


Hanni Jalil migrated with her siblings to the United States from Cali-Colombia; she is the 2019-2020 Mellon University Press Diversity Fellow. This fall, she will join California State University Channel Islands as an assistant professor of Latin American history.

Announcing the 2020-2021 Mellon University Press Diversity Fellows

The University of Washington Press, the MIT Press, Cornell University Press, the Ohio State University Press, University of Chicago Press, Northwestern University Press, and the Association of University Presses (AUPresses) today announce the recipients of the 2020-2021 Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowships.

These fellowships are generously funded by a four-year, $1,205,000 grant awarded to the University of Washington Press from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the continued development and expansion of the pipeline program designed to diversify academic publishing by offering apprenticeships in acquisitions departments. This second grant builds on the success of the initial 2016 grant from the 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.

Please join us in welcoming the 2020-2021 Mellon University Press Diversity Fellows:

Jason Alley joins the University of Washington Press after having served as a visiting assistant professor at Beloit College. Originally from greater Los Angeles, he received his BA in film from the University of California, Berkeley and his MA and PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He brings several years of nonprofit work experience to the table, including stints at Project Inform, a HIV treatment education and advocacy organization, and the Pacific Film Archive, a cinematheque and research center based at the University of California, Berkeley. A fervent believer in good writing across a range of nonfiction genres, Jason’s scholarly interests include anthropology, American studies, visual culture, and feminist and queer studies.

Erika Barrios joins the MIT Press from Northwestern University, where she just completed her BA in English literature. At Northwestern, she worked as a research assistant to digitize the journal Mandorla: Nueva Escritura de las Américas for Open Door Archive. She graduates as an alumna of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, having written her honors thesis on the use of language technology in contemporary US Latinx poetry. Her research interests include twentieth- and twenty-first-century poetry and poetics, digital humanities, hemispheric American literature, and literary responses to neoliberalism.

Rebecca Brutus joins the University of Chicago Press after graduating in May from Ithaca College, where she majored in writing and minored in theater studies and women’s and gender studies. At Ithaca she served as senior nonfiction editor of the literary magazine Stillwater and as a tutor in the Writing Center. She worked for the Ithaca College Library and as a writing and social media intern at Buffalo Street Books. She was also involved with ZAP, a student-run volunteer program that organized panels to educate the campus community about diversity-related issues. Her enthusiasm for university press publishing was cemented during an internship in the marketing department at Cornell University Press.

Joe Fitzgibbon joins the Ohio State University Press with a professional background in academic copyediting and proofreading of both books and journals. He received his BA from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and MA from the College of William & Mary, where he wrote a thesis on the federalization of US immigration policy in the antebellum period. He currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin, and spends his free time reading and managing the Wisconsin Sting sled hockey team.

Allegra Martschenko joins Cornell University Press after working as a sales intern at Princeton University Press. She has also worked in the world of children’s book publishing, managing social media for a small press. She is a recent graduate of Princeton University’s School of Architecture, with minors in urban studies and creative writing. Her interests include speculative fiction (especially the work of Laini Taylor), video games, and painting.

Iván Pérez-Zayas joins Northwestern University Press after working as a college professor and journalist. He received his BA in public communications and MA in English literature from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. He has published book and film reviews and co-edited a book of short stories and poems by young Puerto Rican writers, including some of his own work. In 2018, Editorial Disonante published his first poetry chapbook, Para restarse. He is currently writing a dissertation on twentieth- and twenty-first-century Latin American comics, especially those that depict the everyday lives of their characters and explore issues of race, gender and sexuality, to complete his PhD in Spanish and Portuguese at Northwestern University.

 

$1,205,000 Mellon grant to expand the University Press Diversity Fellowship Program

The University of Washington Press, the MIT Press, Cornell University Press, the Ohio State University Press, University of Chicago Press, Northwestern University Press, and the Association of University Presses (AUPresses) join forces to expand the University Press Diversity Fellowship Program.

A four-year, $1,205,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has been awarded to the University of Washington Press to support the continued development and expansion of the pipeline program designed to diversify academic publishing by offering apprenticeships in acquisitions departments. This new grant will provide for three annual cycles of editorial fellows at six university presses: the University of Washington Press, the MIT Press, Cornell University Press, the Ohio State University Press, University of Chicago 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.”

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.

Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Washington Mark Richards says, “At the University of Washington, we value and honor diverse experiences and perspectives and prioritize promoting access, opportunity, and justice for all. I’m excited about the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s investment in diversity and inclusion in transforming academic publishing, and delighted that UW Press is a leader in this area.”

Betsy Wilson, Vice Provost for Digital Initiatives and Dean of University Libraries, to whom the UW Press reports, says, “UW Libraries actively supports the university in sustaining diversity, creating inclusive experiences for the UW community, and confronting institutional bias and structural racism. This new grant augments our existing commitments and programs to equity and social justice as a world-class research university.”

For more information, please contact Larin McLaughlin, Editor in Chief, by calling (206) 221-4995 or emailing  lmclaugh@uw.edu.

2018–2019 Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowship

The University of Washington Press (job number 152934), Duke University Press (Careers), MIT Press (job number 15648), and the University of Georgia Press (job number S00514P) are now accepting applications for the 2018–2019 Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowship Program. The program seeks to increase diversity in scholarly publishing by providing year-long fellowships in the acquisitions departments of the four university presses with the support of the Association of University Presses and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Search committees will begin reviewing applications after March 15, 2018. Selected fellows will be notified by April 14, 2018, to begin the year-long fellowship on June 1, 2018.

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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