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Publishing industry veteran Alison Mudditt appointed UC Press director

The Regents of the University of California have approved the appointment of Alison Mudditt as the new director of University of California Press. Mudditt, who brings more than 22 years of experience in academic and scholarly publishing to the position, will take over from Lynne Withey, who announced her retirement earlier this year.

“Alison is the perfect person to succeed the enormously successful tenure of Lynne Withey,” said Daniel Greenstein, vice provost for academic planning and programs at the University of California. “She is steeped in traditional forms of scholarly publishing and facile with new models and approaches. She is also a keen strategist, a great financial and business planner, and a genuine and energetic person. We are lucky to have her as part of the UC community.”

Named one of the Top 50 Women in Publishing by Book Business magazine in 2009, Mudditt most recently served as executive vice president at SAGE Publications, Inc., where she headed the Higher Education group’s publishing programs. She also has held senior positions at Taylor & Francis and at Blackwell, where she managed noteworthy international publishing programs, and has served as a member of the Executive Council of the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the American Association of Publishers. She holds an MBA from The Open University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Bath.

A new chapter in publishing history

Mudditt’s position, which she will assume on Jan. 10, 2011, places her at the helm of one of the largest and most distinguished university presses in the nation. Founded in 1893, University of California Press publishes approximately 200 new books and 40 multi-issue journals each year and has more than 4,000 titles in print. Its acclaimed publishing program encompasses hundreds of influential and award-winning books and journals, an illustrious collection of titles on California and the West, and a range of partnerships with organizations such as the Mark Twain Project and the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers.

Mudditt relishes the opportunity to lead the redefinition of UC Press in a new era. “I hope to continue to reflect the mission and standards of excellence of the UC system at the same time as pushing the boundaries of traditional publishing,” she says. “I have always held a firm belief that education and scholarship matter, both for enriching us as individuals and for improving society as a whole. There are sadly fewer and fewer organizations left where these values have the opportunity to thrive in the way they do at UC Press.”

Multifaceted publishing experience

Mudditt’s broad experience in different sectors of publishing uniquely positions her to lead a university press. She began her career at Blackwell Publishers in Oxford, UK. After three years in marketing, she moved into acquisitions and later became Publisher for the Humanities Division. During this period she also served on the boards of both Women in Publishing and the Society of Young Publishers.

In 1997, Mudditt moved to Taylor & Francis, Inc. in Philadelphia as publishing director of the Behavioral Sciences division. She was responsible for the global growth and consolidation of the division, as well as the successful launch of Psychology Press in the U.S. She joined SAGE in 2001 as vice president and editorial director, and was appointed executive vice president in 2004. One of her key roles was to respond to dynamic global shifts in scholarly publishing and education.

“At each company where I’ve worked, I’ve been able to build a publishing program that enjoys a stellar reputation for excellence,” Mudditt says. “At the same time, I’ve contributed to significant improvements in both top and bottom line performance.”

Technology and the future

Facing the challenges of an industry that is being transformed by technology, Mudditt underscores the role that new digital products and business models play in the field. “Scholarly publishing faces an interesting and inherently complex set of problems that will require a complete range of leadership skills,” Mudditt says. “Many of these are driven by rapid, revolutionary changes in the ways in which information is disseminated and consumed that will require UC Press to respond quickly and effectively to the needs of our authors, readers, and markets. UC Press is lucky to have an extremely talented and experienced staff, and they will be a great source of information and guidance for me during my first months.”

Mudditt sees several key areas of opportunity for UC Press: aligning more closely with the strengths and priorities of the University of California, connecting knowledge and research on significant contemporary problems with genuine solutions, and embracing new types of products that were simply not possible in a print world. “My long-term goal,” she notes, “is to create an organization that is growing, thriving, and dynamic with a continuing reputation for excellence in all it publishes. I’m really looking forward to getting started and engaging with the issues.”

Founded in 1893, University of California Press is one of the largest and most distinguished scholarly publishers in the nation. Among peer university presses of its size, UC Press is the only one in the West and the only one associated with a public university. UC Press’s mission is to advance scholarship and learning by developing and disseminating books, journals, and digital resources of enduring value to scholars, students, library users, policymakers, and readers worldwide.

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