Kathleen Keane's M.B.A. thesis was titled "Pricing
Scholarly Books: A Supervised Business Study." She says the
project gave her an "excellent introduction" to practical
economics, and to university press publishing. If that was
indeed an introduction, the subjects certainly made a very
good first impression, as they would become the
cornerstones of her distinguished career.
Keane, who has more than 20 years' experience in
health sciences and scholarly publishing, has been
appointed director of the
University Press, effective May 1. She has served as
interim director since Jan. 1, when James Jordan stepped
down from his post of more than five years to become
director of Columbia University Press.
Keane joined the JHU Press in September 2002 as
director of finance and operations. In that role, Keane had
direct responsibility for accounting, information systems
and Hopkins Fulfillment Services, the Press' book
distribution service center.
Winston Tabb, dean of university libraries and
director of the
Sheridan Libraries, chaired the search committee, which
was aided by a leading recruitment firm in the area of
Tabb says that the group was unanimous in its belief
that Keane was the ideal person to lead the Johns Hopkins
Press. "Her experience both at the Press and in the area of
commercial publishing before she came to Johns Hopkins
seemed to provide the ideal preparation for someone who
must be sensitive to the needs of scholars and scholarship
while also keeping the Press operating on the soundest
possible financial footing," Tabb says.
Keane earned her master's degree in English, with a
specialization in modern English literature, from Catholic
University of America. She received her M.B.A. from the
Colgate Darden Graduate School of Business Administration
at the University of Virginia.
Prior to coming to Johns Hopkins, Keane served as
executive vice president of operations and chief publishing
officer at Harcourt Health Sciences in Philadelphia, a
division of Harcourt Inc.
At Harcourt, Keane was responsible for all its health
sciences books, including major textbooks and reference
books in medicine, nursing and allied health; journals; and
She began her professional career in 1974 at the
National Endowment for the Arts, where for three years she
administered a multimillion-dollar federal grant program
for symphony orchestras. From 1980 to 1991, she was
business manager and vice president for finance at J.B
Lippincott Co., a medical book and journal publisher, that
was a subsidiary of Harper and Row Publishers. She joined
Harcourt in 1991 as its executive vice president for
operations and senior vice president for operations for
W.B. Saunders, its health sciences division.
JHU Press is the oldest academic press in the country.
Founded in 1878 at the behest of Daniel Coit Gilman, it
began its life as the Publishing Agency, an entity created
to provide scholarly journals for the fledgling Johns
Hopkins and its faculty.
To date, the Press has published more than 5,000
titles. Today, in addition to scholarly books, journals and
monographs, the Press publishes works for a general
audience, including health, regional history and trade
In 1995, the Press, in collaboration with the Milton
S. Eisenhower Library, launched
Project Muse to offer
the full text of its scholarly journals via the Web.
Currently, Project MUSE offers nearly 250 journal titles
from more than 30 scholarly publishers, covering the fields
of literature and criticism, history, political science,
the visual and performing arts, and many others.
Keane says she was initially drawn to the JHU Press
because of its wide breadth of offerings, both in the
sciences and the humanities.
As to what direction she plans to take the JHU Press,
Keane says that it will continue on its current course but
that she would like to see the journals program and Project
"The trend in scholarship is moving toward greater
reliance on those kinds of resources," she says.
Keane says that one particular challenge that all
academic publishers face is the ability to maintain the
proper balance between commercially viable activities and
books, and particular monographs that are essential
scholarship but increasingly hard to subsidize.
"The work embodied in those books is not reaching very
many people, and I would like to find a way to expand that
reach and make them more read," she says. "It's an area we
Provost Steven Knapp, to whom Keane will report, says
that Keane understands the vital contribution the JHU Press
can make to the university's mission of bringing knowledge
to the world. Specifically, he says that the new director
will seek to strengthen the financial viability of its book
component and more closely integrate the Press into the
fabric of the university.
"Currently only 12 percent of the Press' authors are
Johns Hopkins faculty," Knapp says. "Of course the Press is
not just a vehicle for Johns Hopkins authors; it provides a
forum for excellent scholarly work produced around the
world. But we do want to look for ways in which the Press
can be more fully integrated with the divisions and can
help develop and promote some of this university's unique
Keane says that she realizes she becomes director at a
pivotal moment in the Press' history.
"The Press just last year celebrated its 125th
anniversary, and that event brought its past successes into
the minds of many here at Johns Hopkins," she says. "I am
looking forward to the opportunity to lead us forward into
the next era. Certainly, we can't replicate the past
— the markets are different, and the world is
different — but I think there is a strong base and
plenty of room to enhance what is here."