Position Overview - University Press of Kansas Director

Note: The University Press of Kansas has retained Jack Farrell & Associates to lead the recruiting effort for this position. Interested candidates should contact Mike Bennett  at mike@jackfarrell.com for additional information related to the search.

The Director provides leadership and vision and serves as a focal point for decision-making and public outreach for the University Press of Kansas (UPK/Press). The director oversees all facets of Press operations: planning, acquisitions, production, marketing, sales, budgeting, financial management, and fundraising and manages a staff of ten. The director collaboratively develops strategies for building the publishing program of the University Press of Kansas; serves as the public face of the Press, promoting the Press to the universities in the consortium and other constituent groups in Kansas; facilitates provision of information about scholarly book publishing to the faculty of the six regents’ universities; reports to the Board of Trustees on the activities of the Press; and works with departments of the University of Kansas as needed for the support of the Press. The director must be experienced, creative, and committed to upholding the scholarly principles of academic publishing while advancing innovation and embracing evolving technology. The director should be a leader in scholarly communication, ensure and enhance UPK’s high editorial and production standards, and aggressively market and promote the Press’s publications. This an on-site/in-person position with an office located at the University of Kansas Lawrence campus. Lawrence is perennially ranked among the top places to live in the US.

At the University of Kansas, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging are an important part of our culture and university strategic plan.  Applications from members of underrepresented groups are encouraged, noting the value that differences bring to our organization.

About the University Press of Kansas

The University Press of Kansas was founded in 1946 and represents the six state universities in Kansas: Emporia State University, Fort Hays State University, Kansas State University, Pittsburg State University, the University of Kansas, and Wichita State University. It was established as a consortium by the Kansas Board of Regents and is governed by a Board of Trustees, who are the chief academic officers of the six universities. The Press is located on the west campus of the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, and functionally operates as a department of KU while being governed by the Board of Trustees.

UPK has more than 3,000 published books to its credit, more than 2,200 in print, and publishes approximately 45 new books annually. The Press specializes most broadly in history—including military, political, legal, and environmental histories—in addition to the regional list. The lists in presidential and military studies are held in especially high esteem by specialists, but those in constitutional and legal studies and American history (particularly political, cultural, intellectual, natural, and Western) also rank among the very best. Not least are the Press’s books on environmental policy and history, American studies, film studies, law and legal histories, and Native and Indigenous studies. The Press’s regional list contributes to the understanding and celebration of Kansas, the Great Plains, and the Midwest. The Press has nurtured its reputation among scholars and readers for contributions to important scholarly and public debates. UPK’s achievements can be confirmed by such objective criteria as a disproportionate number of book prizes and commendations, major media reviews, book club adoptions, and an NEH-Mellon Open Book grant.


Strategic (50%)

  • Articulate a strong vision for the role and future strategic direction of the University Press of Kansas.
  • Establish and maintain productive working relationships with the Board of Trustees, university staff, Press editorial board members, authors, scholars, reviewers, and colleagues.
  • Develop metrics and analyze data for strategic operational activities.  Prepare and deliver reports for the Board of Trustees on the status of the Press.
  • Responsible for developing and overseeing the budget for the Press.
  • Seek innovative and cost-effective approaches to a traditional book publishing program and to digital, audio, and other formats of publication.
  • Oversee changing platforms for knowledge dissemination, creative and inclusive acquisition strategies, and sustainable financial models that support access, equity, and diversity.
  • Acquire one to two trade or regional titles annually.
  • Responsible for legal issues, contracts, and conferring with University Counsel and for working with other departments of the University of Kansas and outside businesses that provide services to the Press.

Leadership (30%)

  • Manage and motivate a team of highly productive professionals.
  • Collaborate with the Press's senior management team on departmental goals, strategies, budgets, and performance reviews, as well as the development of seasonal lists, new series, entrepreneurial initiatives, and technological innovations.
  • Oversee the hiring, management, development, performance objectives, and succession planning strategies of Press personnel.  
  • Advocate for the Press externally and within the six consortium universities. Work with the Press marketing staff on public relations, website development, and social media.
  • Represent the Press at various events, venues, conferences, professional meetings, and relevant associations; engage in public speaking opportunities to share Press news, recent publications and projects, and information about the publishing process.
  • Identify opportunities for student internships and other experiential education opportunities.

Fundraising (20%)

  • Cultivate relationships with state agencies, foundations, and individuals to secure funding for projects that require financial support and to enhance the profile of UPK.
  • Seek opportunities for grants and donations to support the publishing operation of the Press. Work with the consortia endowment leaders at all institutions to develop external donor relationships and funding opportunities.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Master’s or equivalent in a relevant field (i.e., journalism, business, English, etc.) or a combination of a Bachelor's degree and two years of directly related experience.
  • Seven years of relevant experience in the publishing industry.
  • Five years of managerial experience.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of all aspects of scholarly book publishing—finance, operations, editorial, marketing, and production through application materials, interview, and references.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills as determined by application materials, interview and references.
  • Experience building partnerships, both internally and externally.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Terminal degree in a relevant field.
  • Ten or more years of experience in the publishing industry.
  • Demonstrated leadership in the field of scholarly book publishing and proven managerial skill in a complex organizational setting.
  • Documented knowledge of business and management principles involving strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources, and leadership practices.
  • Demonstrated fundraising or grant success.
  • Extensive knowledge of the major trends and challenges facing presses and scholarly communication in general with an ability to articulate plans to address these challenges.
  • Demonstrated experience with developing print, digital, and audio content.
  • Experience with contracts and knowledge of publishing elements (copyright, permissions, subsidiary-rights).
  • Ability to foster a diverse and inclusive working environment.
  • Experience working and creating a collegial environment, to inspire confidence and trust, to navigate intercultural differences with understanding and skill, and to maintain a positive and empowering work culture.

About the University of Kansas

The University of Kansas is a Carnegie doctoral/research-extensive university with a $1.4 billion endowment and a faculty of 2,600. Current enrollment is 28,500 (19,000 undergraduate), with students drawn from 110 nations and all 50 states, 20.6% of KU students are members of minority groups. The 1,000-acre main campus is in Lawrence, Kansas the center of a vibrant and culturally-rich community — a quintessential college town. Visitors, students and new employees from outside the area enjoy discovering the many wonders of Lawrence, including a thriving downtown, diverse local and regional events, area lakes, vibrant arts and music scenes, and an indelible history.  Home to nearly 95,000 people, Lawrence is located 45 minutes west of Kansas City and 30 minutes east of Topeka, the state capital. Along with the music, arts, culture and sports experiences offered at KU and in Lawrence, the short drive to Kansas City provides quick access to historic jazz clubs, museums, world-class music and theatre venues, and professional sports teams.


The University of Kansas offers an attractive benefits package including leave, health and life insurance, retirement, employee and dependent tuition assistance, and more.  For additional information visit https://newhires.ku.edu/.  

Anticipated Salary Range

Commensurate with Experience

UPK’s Consortial Members

Emporia State University

Fort Hays State University

Kansas State University

Pittsburg State University

University of Kansas

Wichita State University

Application Process

Candidates should provide a resume and two-page cover letter by email to Mike Bennett at mike@jackfarrell.com. The letter should address:

  1. Why are you interested?
  2. How are you qualified?
  3. What might UPK look like in several years under your stewardship?

Thank you. 

JO 202304035

Nondiscrimination Statement

The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression, and genetic information in the university's programs and activities. Retaliation is also prohibited by university policy. The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policies and are the Title IX coordinators for their respective campuses: Associate Vice Chancellor for the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX, civilrights@ku.edu, Room 1082, Dole Human Development Center, 1000 Sunnyside Avenue, Lawrence, KS 66045, 785-864-6414, 711 TTY (for the Lawrence, Edwards, Parsons, Yoder, and Topeka campuses); Director, Equal Opportunity Office, Mail Stop 7004, 4330 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Fairway, KS 66205, 913-588-8011, 711 TTY (for the Wichita, Salina, and Kansas City, Kansas medical center campuses).