Johns Hopkins Gazette: September 26, 1994

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
    "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
    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
    Nominations may be submitted to Dr. McClain at the
Office of the Provost, 265 Garland Hall, Homewood.

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