Dean Smith, the director of Cornell University Press, will be the new director of Duke University Press, school officials announced Thursday.
Smith succeeds Steve Cohn, who is retiring at the end of June. Cohn has been at Duke University Press since 1984, and has served as director since 1993. Smith will start his new job on July 1.
“The Duke University Press is one of Duke’s great assets. It is a world-renowned press with a stellar reputation,” said Duke Provost Sally Kornbluth. “With his business acumen, deep knowledge of the publishing world, interest in new technologies and wide-ranging intellectual interests, Dean will be a wonderful new leader for the press.”
Kornbluth also thanked Cohn for his quarter-century of leadership at Duke Press. “Steve has built the press into a national powerhouse that’s held in high esteem throughout the academic world,” Kornbluth said. “Steve has worked tirelessly to ensure the highest possible standards for the press.”
Each year Duke University Press publishes about 140 new books, almost 60 journals and multiple digital collections that share the ideas of progressive thinkers and support emerging and vital fields of scholarship across the humanities and interpretive social sciences. It is also well known for its mathematics journals, sophisticated graphic design and integration of technology platforms. The press, located in Durham’s Brightleaf Square, was founded in 1921.
“I am honored and thrilled to be selected as director of Duke University Press,” Smith said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues at the press and across the university to publish high-quality scholarship and advance the frontiers of knowledge in new and exciting ways.”
Since Smith became director of Cornell University Press in 2015, the press has expanded its title output from 100 to 150 titles per year, increased its digital publishing footprint from 350 to more than 3,000 eBooks, and published 150 open access texts on the Cornell Open website.
During his 30-year publishing career, Smith has helped lead all aspects of the transition from print-based publications to more easily accessible web-based digital editions; this includes a key role in reimagining Project Muse, a pivotal digital platform for humanities scholarship, to include eBooks and journals together. He has a wealth of experience in book and journal acquisitions, digital platform development, financial management, global business development and strategic planning, and held such roles as journal publisher, director of electronic publishing, vice president of sales and marketing as well as press director.
“Duke University Press has developed incredible talent throughout the organization and has cultivated strong relationships with many Duke faculty,” noted Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies Ed Balleisen. “Dean Smith has the background and creativity to build on the press’s many strengths, whether by deepening partnerships across campus, furthering our goals for diversity and inclusion, or successfully navigating the rapidly evolving terrain of academic publishing.”
Smith is the author of American Boy, a book that won the 2000 Washington Writer's Prize and the Maryland Prize for Literature in 2001. He is also a contributor of poetry to such publications as Poetry East, Open City, The Virginia Literary Review, Gulf Stream and the anthology D.C. Poets Against the War.
Though no relation to the late legendary UNC basketball coach of the same name, Smith is an avid sports fan who has previously worked as a sportswriter and freelance journalist; in 2013, Temple University Press published his book about the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, Never Easy, Never Pretty: A Fan, A City, A Championship Season.