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January 19, 1995

Director of University Press named

Provost James Maher has named Cynthia Miller, editor-in-chief of the University Press of Kansas since 1989, as the new director of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Miller will succeed Fred Hetzel, who retired in October after 30 years as director of the Press. Miller hopes to be on the job by April 1, but her exact starting date will depend upon the logistics of moving from Kansas to Pittsburgh.

"We were very impressed with the quality of the list she developed at the University Press of Kansas," said Elizabeth Baranger, chair of the search committee that nominated Miller. "The other thing that impressed the committee was the diversity of her experience. She has worked at different presses in different capacities." Prior to joining the University Press of Kansas, Miller served as marketing manager at The Brookings Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank, as executive editor and marketing director at Wesleyan University Press, and as marketing manager and senior editor at The Catholic University of America Press. Her other experience includes editorial or research positions at the University of South Carolina Press, the Pelican Publishing Co. and Virginia State Library.

Miller said she decided to seek the Pitt post because she had reached a point in her career where she was interested in becoming a press director and had received favorable reports on the University Press from friends in the publishing business.

"They spoke highly of the program and, when I started looking at it, the books that Pitt publishes are in areas that I've worked with in other places," she said. "That really made me interested in applying." During the interview process, Miller said, she became even more interested when she saw how committed the University seems to be to the Press.

"The administration and the faculty really, sincerely want the Press to do well," she said. "They are very supportive of the Press and that, I think, is essential to having a good operation. Had that not been there, it would have made me rethink the whole idea because I don't think you can be successful as a director if you don't have that kind of support behind you." Among the elements of the Press itself that Miller found attractive were its Russian, Slavic and Latin American series. She said those three series have a political science element and that she had enjoyed working with the U.S. political science series published by The Brookings Institute.

Two other attractions for Miller were the Press's strong list of regional titles and the Pitt poetry series. She has worked with regional titles at the University Press of Kansas and had worked with poetry books at Wesleyan University Press.

"I like working with books that are aimed more for a general audience than just a scholarly audience and the fact that regional books for a general audience is one of Pitt's strengths, with its western Pennsylvania/Appalachian studies, that was really appealing to me," Miller explained. "When you mix the scholarly with the general interest that makes for a more interesting mix to work on." Of the Pitt poetry series, she said simply it is one of the top three or four poetry series in the nation and "that was a real attraction for me." Miller said it is far too early for her to predict any new directions in which she might want to move. She added, however, that she does not expect to be going into any "wildly new areas." Her general goals for the Press are to continue to improve its quality, to keep going after bigger books, better books and more substantial books in the scholarly area and more successful books on the general interest side. She also would like to raise the visibility of the Press in the academic arena.

"My own academic background is in history," Miller said. "I would like to use some of the things that already have been done at Pitt, particularly in the regional area, to look at ways to strengthen Pitt's presence in U.S. history. It probably wouldn't be a major new effort. "But I won't know how that will go until I get there and know a little bit more about the current demands on staff and how much room there is to do anything new." Whatever changes that might take place, Miller said the Press will have to find a way to undertake them without being more of a financial drain on the University.

"In my conversations with various people in the administration, there was no talk of wanting to cut all support for the Press," she said, "but there was talk about keeping it within reasonable limits and having a good planning strategy in place so that there will not be any surprises." A native of Roanoke, Va., Miller obtained a B.A. in U.S. history from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1973 and a master's degree in U.S. history from Duke University in 1975.

In 1987, she was awarded a Woman's National Book Association Book Woman Award. The award was given to 70 women "who made a difference" in the field of publishing, library science, literacy and bookselling. That same year, Miller served as a member of the Association of American University Presses delegation to the Moscow International Book Fair.

–Mike Sajna

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