History & Mission


Dedicated to the dissemination of scholarly and professional information, Purdue University Press selects, develops, and distributes quality resources in several key subject areas for which its parent university is famous, including business, technology, health, veterinary medicine, and other selected disciplines in the humanities and sciences. As the scholarly publishing arm of Purdue University and a unit of Purdue Libraries, the Press is also a partner for university faculty and staff, centers and departments, wishing to disseminate the results of their research. In 2012, publishing within Purdue Libraries was reorganized in order that staff with skills in this area could also serve the less formal scholarly publishing needs of the Purdue community (e.g., the production of technical reports, conference proceedings, preprint collections, student journals) while still maintaining the Press's reputation for excellence in producing peer-reviewed books and journals in subjects relevant to the University.


On September 29, 1960, an announcement was sent out to the Purdue University community by then President Frederick Hovde establishing "Purdue University Studies" with a $12,000 grant from the Purdue Research Foundation. This was the result of a committee appointed by President Hovde after the English Department had lamented the lack of publishing venues in the humanities. The first Editorial Board was headed by Robert B. Ogle. William Whalen, Director of the Office of Publications, became the part-time Director of Purdue University Studies. Diane Dubriel was the first full-time employee. Verna Emery was Managing Editor from 1977 to 1990, succeeded by Margaret Hunt who served until 2008. Other long-serving employees who helped build the Press's reputation were Carolyn McGrew (1990-2002), Donna VanLeer (1989-2008), and Beverly Carrell (1988-1996), 

On September 12, 1974, Purdue University Studies became Purdue University Press and moved to offices in South Campus Courts. In June 1992, William Whalen retired and David Sanders was appointed the first full-time Director, serving until 1996. At the same time, on July 1, 1992, responsibility for the Press was transferred to the Dean of Libraries. David Sanders was succeeded by Tom Bacher (1997-2008). Under Sanders and Bacher, the range of books that the Press published grew to better reflect the work from other Colleges at Purdue University, beyond Liberal Arts, especially in the areas of agriculture, health, and engineering. The Press developed distinguished lists in a range of subject areas from poetry to the study of the human-animal bond. The number of books produced each year increased from 6 in 1990 to 35 in 2002. In 1993 Purdue University Press was admitted to membership of the Association of American University Presses.

Tom Bacher was succeeded by Charles Watkinson (2009-2014). Under Watkinson's direction, Open Access journals publishing and innovative campus-based services were expanded. In 2012, to further support campus-based publishing activities, Purdue e-Pubs—the University's institutional text repository, manuscript management system, and open access publishing solution—came under the Press' purview. Additionally during Watkinson's tenure, several significant grants were awarded, including a grant to establish and maintain HABRI Central, an electronic library and collaborative resource hub for the study of the human-animal bond, and a grant from the Mellon Foundation for a unique approach to global grand challenges research, scholarly publishing, and communication at Purdue. Charles Watkinson was succeeded by Peter Froehlich (2015-2017).

Today the Press publishes around 25 books a year, and 20 journals, a number of them in electronic-only, Open Access, format in collaboration with Purdue University Libraries. In 2009, under Interim Director Bryan Shaffer, the Press moved from South Campus Court, on the edge of Purdue’s West Lafayette facility, to Stewart Center, the location of the Libraries Administration. This move reflects a recognition of the converging paths of librarians and publishers in the digital age, and the exciting potential of an integrated approach to scholarly communication. In its location at the center of campus, the Press can also better fulfill the part of its mission that focuses on efficiently supporting the dissemination of scholarly research conducted at Purdue, and enhancing the university's global reputation.


* Thank you to Katherine Markee, Oral History Librarian and Professor of Library Science, for researching the history of the Press. Thank you also to Verna Emery and Carolyn McGrew for additional details. Additional information and corrections would be welcomed. Please send to pupress [at] purdue [dot] edu (Purdue University Press).