Improving the Queen’s Press

McGill-Queen’s University Press’ Kingston office to hire two full-time employees after external review recommends changes

The Kingston office of the McGill-Queen’s University Press (MQUP) is temporarily closed after its three staff left their positions.

Their departure followed an external review of the Press in 2011 which recommended steps for moving forward and expanding.

The Press is one of the largest university publishers in North America, and ranks in the top 10 percentile in volume of work published.

“These are exciting times for the Kingston editorial office of the Press as the number of manuscripts from that office will at least treble in output once the two editors have settled in their places,” MQUP Executive Director Philip Cercone told the Journal via email.

The review was conducted by the Provost at the University of British Columbia and the directors of two major American university presses and found that MQUP was “clearly the best Canadian University Press and among the best in North America,” Cercone said.

“In the next 10 years, the 17-member Board of Directors of the Press, on which sit the Principals and Provosts of both Queen’s and McGill, will be considering a 10-year blueprint — one hopes that the number of titles published will be increased by some 50 per cent,” he said. “As well, the list will be more focused and the area of growth will likely be more on internationally-themed books than Canadian ones so that we will have an even split between world and Canadian themes.”

In June, the University announced that Donald Akenson, the long-time senior editor of the Press’s Kingston office, was stepping down. A Sept. 10 release on the Queen’s News Centre announced that two additional staff members had resigned, and that Queen’s will shortly be undertaking the hiring of new editors.

Two full-time acquisition editors will be hired to work in Kingston and will be supported by clerical staff.

“After that I’m preparing a strategic plan not just for that office but for the whole press and that will be considered by the board. It would probably be by December,” he said.

Cercone added that the editorial offices in both Kingston and Montreal are being allocated additional resources to significantly increase the yearly number of titles to be published.

The Press began at McGill in 1960 and merged with Queen’s in 1969. Cercone said the Press continues to publish the same sorts of books today as it did when it was created, which includes “scholarly, high-end trade and some course adoption books” mostly in the area of humanities and social sciences.

Queen’s Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Alan Harrison, who is co-chair of the MQUP’s Board of Directors, said the restructuring won’t mean turning the Kingston office into something entirely different. The review was commissioned by the Provost of McGill University, and Harrison’s predecessor at Queen’s, Bob Silverman.

“I think what they asked the reviewers to do was to look at where McGill-Queen’s Press was in the market and also assess whether, and if so how, the Press should reposition itself within that market,” Harrison said. “I think the overall tone of the review was very positive. That said, the reviewers did make some particular recommendations on how the press might be repositioned.”

— With files from Megan Cui, Alison Shouldice and Vincent Matak

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