Jack Goellner retires as head of JHU Press By Dennis O'Shea There must be something special about serving as director of the Johns Hopkins University Press: nobody who gets the job ever seems to want to give it up. Jack Goellner has held the title more than 20 years. His predecessor, Harold Ingle, was director for 26 years. Both are relative short-timers compared with Ingle's predecessor, Christian Dittus, who served about half a century. In fact, Goellner, who has announced he will retire March 31, is only the fourth director since North America's oldest university press was founded in 1878. "Over the years, I've been invited to accept other university press directorships, but when I looked at them and what I had here, I just liked this better," Goellner said. "None of those others promised as much as I had at Johns Hopkins. Here we have one of the finest university presses, with a splendid staff, in a premier university. Why would I go elsewhere?" Goellner said he made a commitment to scholarly publishing, rather than trade publishing, early in his career. "It's a very special and worthwhile kind of publishing," he said. "Most of the professionals in it are drawn to the idea of a university. They find it rewarding to be involved directly and importantly with the purposes of the university." Goellner, 64, came to Hopkins in 1961 as the press's sales and advertising manager and served as editor-in-chief from 1965 to 1973. He then moved to associate director until he was appointed to the top job a year later. When he arrived in Baltimore, the Hopkins press had a staff of 20; it published 28 books a year and six journals for total annual sales of $200,000. By the time he became director, that was up to a staff of 50, 75 books, seven journals and $1.4 million. Today, the press's 112 staffers bring in $13 million a year from 43 journals, 200 new books a year--many of them prizewinners--and a fulfillment consortium that handles order processing, shipping, credit, billing and cash management services for 15 other presses. "It really is a much different operation now than it was then," Goellner said. The press's fundamental mission hasn't changed, though. That is still to publish scholarly work--much of which would never be picked up by profit-minded commercial houses--and to do it on at least a break-even basis, without subsidy from the university. Goellner said the press does now take a broader approach to fulfilling that mission. Though still primarily a humanities and social sciences publisher--as U.S. academic presses traditionally are--the Hopkins press has been expanding its output in science, technology and medicine and is working on a shift of 25 percent of its output into the sciences. The press has had a full-time medical editor for 12 years, and is still the only American university press with a medical publishing program. Exports to Europe, Asia, Australia and Canada now account for 15 percent of total sales, but the press remembers its roots with a sizable program of books on the Chesapeake Bay region, some of which are best sellers. The press is also working with Eisenhower Library on Project Muse, designed to make all 43 Hopkins-published journals available on line through the Internet and World Wide Web. "The Johns Hopkins Press under Jack Goellner has embodied excellence in its field in accordance with the highest aspirations of this university," Provost Joseph Cooper said. "The press, the university and the scholarly community all over the world admire Jack greatly and owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude." Goellner said he takes particular satisfaction in the press's role as the most prolific, "by far," training ground for future directors of other academic presses. At one point, he said, there were as many as 13 active university press directors who got their start or a significant part of their experience at Hopkins. "That was always a point of pride with Harold [Ingle] and it's certainly a point of pride with me," he said. A committee to search for Goellner's successor has begun meeting under the chairmanship of Vice Provost Stephen McClain. Other members of the committee are Jayne M. Campbell, assistant director of Welch Information Services; Anita Walker Scott, director of design and production for the press; interim Eisenhower Library director Stephen G. Nichols, professor of French; and professors Gert H. Brieger of History of Science, Medicine and Technology; Benjamin Ginsberg of Political Science; Phillip R. Slavney of Psychiatry; M. Steven Stanley of Earth and Planetary Sciences; and M. Gordon Wolman of Geography and Environmental Engineering. Nominations may be submitted to Dr. McClain at the Office of the Provost, 265 Garland Hall, Homewood.
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