The University of Akron Press: From Under the Desk to the National Book Awards

When the University of Akron Board of Trustees founded the University of Akron Press in 1988, they did so without giving the fledgling operation a physical home on campus.

Mary Beth Mersky, an employee in the Provost’s Office who assisted the Press, often said it was housed in a box under her desk. Nevertheless, Mersky, along with history professor Dr. Daniel Nelson, who served as the first director of the press, set out to publish books about Ohio history and culture.

With initial funding provided by Paul Martin from the Class of ’35, the UA Press published its first book, Summit’s Glory: Sketches of Buchtel College and the University of Akron—written by George W. Knepper, with drawings by Bruce R. Armstrong—in 1990.

Over the years, the UA Press has evolved, expanding the scope of its content beyond state history and culture, publishing books on politics, psychology, sports, and—with the creation of the Akron Series in Poetry and the Akron Poetry Prize—poetry.

In 2017, the Press’ work to bring compelling and original voices in the genre to the public was recognized nationally, with 2015 Akron Poetry Prize winner Leslie Harrison and her collection The Book of Endings becoming a National Book Awards finalist.

The University of Akron Press no longer resides under a desk, but in Akron’s historic Quaker Square. But its goal is still the same: publish great books.

Advertisements