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University Press Of Virginia Names New Director University Of Chicago Press Executive Signed

June 21, 2001-- The University Press of Virginia has named Penelope "Penny" J. Kaiserlian, associate director and editorial director of the University of Chicago Press, as its new director. Her appointment takes effect in mid-August.

Kaiserlian succeeds Nancy Essig, who retired in April after 12 years at the helm. Essig is credited with doubling Virginia Press sales to nearly $2 million a year and boosting its visibility and reputation through publishing such books as "Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy" by Annette Gordon-Reed.

Kaiserlian, the No. 2 executive at the University of Chicago Press, brings a wealth of management experience and editorial judgment to Charlottesville from the nation’s top academic publisher, which has annual book publishing income of more than $20 million.

"We went into the search hoping to find someone with the experience, the smarts and the leadership ability to ensure the University Press of Virginia a place in the first rank of American university presses," said Raymond J. Nelson, Kenan Professor of English at the University of Virginia and chairman of the search committee. "Penny has all those abilities and more."

Associate director of the University of Chicago Press since 1983, Kaiserlian has served on its executive committee since 1978. As such, she has set policy, mapped strategy, projected sales and developed budgets. She also has participated in major personnel decisions, negotiated book deals and assisted with public relations.

As editorial director of the Chicago Press’s books division, she has overseen acquisitions of new book projects, manuscript editing and contracts. She has managed a staff of 38 and a $3 million budget, and advised editors on a broad array of issues, such as fundraising for specialized publications.

Kaiserlian has served as Chicago’s acquisitions editor for special projects, selected reference books and style manuals. She has acquired and handled eight to 10 books a year in these areas, in addition to managing acquisitions in geography and the history of cartography. The Association of American Geographers recognized Kaiserlian’s contributions in 1999 when it lauded the University of Chicago Press for "exceptional support of scholarship on the history of cartography," citing a decade of publications in the field as well as the Chicago Press’s ongoing History of Cartography project.

Kaiserlian also has developed major revision projects, such as the fifth and sixth editions of Kate Turabian’s "A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations" and the 14th and 15th (forthcoming) editions of "The Chicago Manual of Style." The style manual’s 14th edition has been the most successful, selling twice as many copies as the previous edition.

Kaiserlian’s previous publishing experience includes stints as marketing manager for the University of Chicago Press, as exhibits manager for Plenum Publishing Inc. in New York, and as a sales representative for Pergamon Press Inc. in the mid-Atlantic states, including Virginia.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in honor’s English from Exeter University in England.

"I look forward to moving from a great private university to a great public university and leading the University Press of Virginia through its next stage of growth," Kaiserlian said.  "With financial support from the Mellon Foundation and the University of Virginia, the Press is poised to launch a new digital imprint and explore other new ways of publishing scholarly works."

Kaiserlian takes over a healthy operation.

"Few university presses are in as solid financial shape as Virginia, which is a testament to Nancy Essig's leadership and the creative work of the staff," Kaiserlian added. "I hope to continue the good work of the Press in the scholarly disciplines in which it has made a name, and to develop the Press's presence in the region."

The University Press of Virginia was founded in 1963 to publish academic work, especially scholarly monographs, for institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It now publishes 50 to 60 titles a year.

While keeping to its original mission, the Virginia Press in the past five years has published more trade and regional titles, including coffee-table books and guidebooks with a Virginia focus and considerable commercial appeal. These titles include "Fruits and Fruit Trees of Monticello," by Peter Hatch; "Architecture of Jefferson Country," by K. Edward Lay; and the lavishly illustrated "With Paintbrush and Shovel," the story of a unique federal Works Progress Administration project that created a wildflower sanctuary in Petersburg, Va.

The University Press of Virginia is nationally recognized for its series in Victorian studies, Francophone literature in translation and the Civil War. In recent years, it has launched academically progressive series in New World Studies, edited by A. James Arnold of U.Va.; the history of the American South, edited by Edward L. Ayers, U.Va.’s newly appointed dean of Arts & Sciences; and the country’s first series in eco-criticism, a nature-oriented literary study.

This spring, the Press won a grant from the Mellon Foundation, matched by funds from U.Va., to create the first electronic imprint devoted to publishing original digital scholarship in the humanities. A search for the imprint’s manager is under way.

Mark Saunders, University Press of Virginia interim director and search committee member, said Kaiserlian’s challenge will be to build sales while strengthening the academic reputation of the press and broadening its scope.

"We expect her to help us consolidate our current position," Saunders said. "We’re competing with other presses for authors whose books sell well, cross-over books of interest to the general reader. We want to get these authors’ second books as well as their first. Penny is adept at that kind of acquisitions effort."

Contact: Charlotte Crystal, (434) 924-6858

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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