Hitchcock Retiring as Director of University of Texas Press

Oct. 20, 2010

AUSTIN, Texas — Joanna Hitchcock, director of the University of Texas Press at The University of Texas at Austin since 1992, will retire from that position at the end of February 2011.

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Joanna HitchcockPhoto: Marsha Miller

Dr. Steven Leslie, provost of the university, said a search for the new director will begin soon.

"The UT Press has had the good fortune of Joanna's strong leadership for almost 20 years," said Leslie. "She has done an outstanding job of leading the Press to become one of the very top university presses in the United States. Her skilled leadership and emphasis on quality were key to achieving its current status as one of the finest university presses in the country."

Hitchcock said she takes pride in the fact that the University of Texas Press, one of the largest book and journal publishers in Texas, has always emphasized quality in its publications.

"It's never been about the numbers," Hitchcock said. "The challenge has rather been to acquire the very best manuscripts in each of the Press's areas of specialization without succumbing to the temptation to expand beyond what the staff could handle. I've been at the helm for almost a third of the Press's 60-year existence and it is time for new leadership."

She said she looks forward to spending time visiting friends and traveling with her husband.

Hitchcock, a graduate of Oxford University, came to Austin from Princeton University Press, where she had been executive editor for the humanities and assistant director. She is a past president of the Association of American University Presses and a founding member of the Texas Book Festival Advisory Committee.

While Hitchcock has been director, University of Texas Press books have won nearly 300 awards for content and 70 for excellence in design and production. She said that while remaining committed to its core mission of publishing books for scholars, UT Press has become more entrepreneurial and adventurous in recent years, seeking out and commissioning manuscripts from writers whose work appeals to wider regional and national audiences.

In 1995, Hitchcock formed an advisory council to help match a National Endowment for the Humanities challenge grant. Working closely with this advisory council over the year, the UT Press has created 25 endowed book series, many of them named for their donors and supporting key areas of the UT Press's program.

Hitchcock said UT Press has been embarking upon multimedia and digital projects that integrate video, audio and the written word, while converting many of its books to electronic formats for distribution to individuals and libraries. During the next few years, most of its out-of-print books will be made available again by means of print-on-demand, a technology that allows publishers to reprint single copies of books and avoid the risk of overstock.

At this turning point in publishing history, Hitchcock said UT Press needs someone who has a personal stake in, as well as a professional commitment to, its long-term future rather than a leader who is approaching retirement.

For more information, contact: Robert D. Meckel, Office of the President, 512 475 7847.

5 Comments to "Hitchcock Retiring as Director of University of Texas Press"

1.  Sanford Thatcher said on Oct. 21, 2010

I worked alongside Joanna for 22 years at Princeton University Press in the Editorial Department, which I headed in the last few years I was there, before moving to become director of Penn State's press. She is a consummate publisher and has done The University of Texas at Austin proud by leading its press to new heights of distinction these past couple of decades. We can only hope that her successor will have as much success as she has in keeping UTP at the forefront of scholarly achievement. And I should mention its distinguished regional publishing also. Joanna gave me a wonderful bunch of books about Texas when I moved to the state in 2009. -Sandy Thatcher

2.  Lewis Bateman said on Oct. 21, 2010

I join with others who have eloquently paid tribute to her. Her record of achievement both at Princeton University Press and as director of the University of Texas Press is a monument to her hard work and outstanding judgment.

Lewis Bateman, Senior Editor
Cambridge University Press

3.  Annes McCann-Baker said on Oct. 23, 2010

I worked with Joanna in publishing three series of books through The University of Texas at Austin Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Under her leadership, we could depend on the Press's excellent judgment, unbiased peer review, skillful book design and dynamic marketing prowess. She will be missed by the university.

4.  Bob Brown said on Nov. 2, 2010

Joanna Hitchcock is a first- class act. She gave me my first real job, at Princeton, and molded my attitudes and standards thereafter. Texas has been most fortunate to have her at the helm. Not only does she have unerring taste, but she's also one of the best people persons in the business.

5.  susan aspinall block said on Nov. 16, 2010

Joanna asked me to be the founding chair of the UTPress Advisory Council, a board that continues to serve, plan and expand the many great publications of the press. Joanna has been the chief architect and supporter of all things literary for our organization. She will be celebrated for her achievements, and missed by all.