The University of Scranton Press is closing, The Scranton Times-Tribune reported. According to the paper, the publishing operation is “a victim of financial pressures and shifting priorities” at the university.
“Basically, it was a budgetary decision. We are a tuition-driven institution, and these are tough economic times,” Harold Baillie, the university’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, told the paper. “Our main priority is the education of our students, and that takes precedence in the distribution of our resources.”
Baillie indicated that the press had become too expensive. “It just reached the point where we could not sustain the losses in the face of our other priorities,” he told the Times-Tribune. The press will finish production on the books it has in the works before it shuts down, he said.
Founded 22 years ago, the press has published some 200 books, the paper said. The publisher’s list is strong in books of regional interest and in scholarly work that intersects with the university’s Jesuit tradition. For instance, fairly recent publications include a biography of the mystic, philosopher, and saint Edith Stein and a book about the European immigrants who worked northeastern Pennsylvania’s coal mines in the early 20th century.
Not currently a member of the Association of American University Presses, the Scranton press belongs to the Association of Jesuit University Presses. That group includes two relatively large publishing operations—Georgetown University Press and Fordham University Press—as well as smaller presses such as Creighton University Press and Marquette University Press. Richard Brown, who directs the Georgetown press, described the association as a low-key group that meets once a year to discuss matters such as cooperative advertising strategies for religion-focused books and journals.—Jennifer Howard
UPDATE 8/16: The Rev. Joseph F. Chorpenning, the editorial director of St. Joseph’s University Press and the current president of the AJUP, sent the Chronicle a comment about the Scranton situation via email. “Together with teaching and research, scholarly publishing is one of the three integral components of the academic mission of a great university,” he wrote. “The rank-and-tenure system is dependent on scholarly rather than commercial publishing, and universities have a responsibility to do their share by allocating appropriate resources to support scholarly publishing. Jesuit universities in particular have a rich, indeed enviable, tradition, dating to the 16th century, of fostering scholarly research and publication, and they would do well to carry this tradition into the future. What’s happened at the University of Scranton is regrettable.”