A May 27 reception will honor Bruce Wilcox as he retires after 32 years as director of University of Massachusetts Press, which itself is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The reception will take place the University Club from 4–6 p.m.
Wilcox told the Daily Hampshire Gazette recently that, over the years, he has had a chance to immerse himself in publishing across a full spectrum of duties and responsibilities, from acquisitions and copy editing to marketing promotion.
Wilcox was responsible for ushering the press through good times and less-than-easy times, and along the way helping the press in 1990 to the New England Booksellers Association’s New England Book Award for Publishing – a first for a university press.
“I feel blessed to have worked in such a great environment, with really wonderful, talented colleagues and with a lot of great writers,” told the Gazette. “In a way, I’ve felt like a perpetual student — every book brings exposure to a new subject, so you’re always learning something new.”
Wilcox said that, with three children and two grandchildren on the West Coast, he will spend more time traveling with his wife, Greta, a teacher at Crocker Farm Elementary School who is also retiring.
Since its inception, the press has sold more than 2 million volumes. Today it has more than 1,000 titles in print. Eight employees, along with student assistants and outside sales representatives, produce and distribute approximately 40 new titles annually. Many of these books are now available in e-book editions, which can be read on a variety of devices.
In recent years, the UMass Press has focused primarily on books in the field of American studies broadly defined—books that explore the history, politics, literature, culture, and environment of the United States—as well as works with a transnational perspective. In addition to publishing works of scholarship, the press produces books of more general interest for a wider readership.