University of Akron Press author Dr. John C. Green brought his book Mr. Chairman: The Life and Times of Ray C. Bliss to the members of the Akron Woman’s City Club on Tuesday, January 23.
Green, who co-wrote the book with William L. Hershey and serves as the director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron, shared interesting insights into the life of Bliss. The Akron-born, nuts-and-bolts Republican used practical politics during his three-decade career as a party chairman at the local, state, and national levels. The innovations he developed during his tenure exist as backbones to U.S. political campaigns today.
“Bliss started using public opinion polling right around the same time the Gallup Poll came out,” said Green.
After finishing his discussion, Green opened the floor for questions. One member of the Akron Woman’s City Club asked how Bliss would feel about the current political climate in Washington, DC, and President Donald Trump.
“I think Bliss would be quite polarized by the division of the two parties,” said Bliss. “Bliss was a big supporter of the two-party system, and had a lot of respect for Democrats. He believed the two parties were necessary for keeping each other in check.”
On President Trump, Green believes Bliss wouldn’t have preferred Trump as a candidate, but once officially selected, would have backed him. “He was all about party unity,” said Green.
For more information on Mr. Chairman, please visit the our beautiful website.
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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 Editor’s Choice selection 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.