Once a year in late summer, the Editorial Board and the Oversight Committee come together in person with staff for a two-day meeting at the University of Michigan, hosted by our partners, Michigan Publishing.
Lever Press conducts much of the business of governance virtually since our leaders and operations are scattered across North America. The Editorial Board and the Oversight Committee each meet monthly via Zoom, supplemented by copious e-mail, phone traffic, and online document editing (not to mention the annual membership meeting in the Fall). But once a year in late summer, the Board and the Committee come together in person with staff for a two-day meeting at the University of Michigan, hosted by our partners, Michigan Publishing. This year we met on August 13th and 14th.
The two days are organized into separate and joint meetings of the two groups so that the groups can build relationships as separate entities with separate roles in the organization, but also together–along with the staff of the press–as the leadership of the organization. The core of the meeting was consideration of the final report from TBI Consulting and, based on that set of recommendations, development of plans for Phase 2 of Lever Press, since the first round of funding ends in December 2020. We discussed what we had learned from these first years of planning and operation, and considered membership models that will enable us to fulfill our goals for the next few years as we transition from experimental venture to sustainable operations. We also came up with the messaging that we think will be successful in building a firm base amongst stakeholders: those libraries (and their administrations) that have funded the Press from the very beginning; new members who want join in building this innovative press; potential authors who may be looking for a publishing venue like ours; and the wider scholarly community who want access to high quality books for their teaching and research. Expect to hear more about the results of this work at the membership meeting at Bucknell University in October. It wasn’t all hard graft–we also enjoyed meals together and Charles Watkinson of Michigan Publishing kindly arranged for us to hear a presentation from Kathleen Fitzpatrick of Michigan State University, who shared ideas from her book Generous Thinking: A Radical Approach to Saving the University (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019). If you are interested in a sustainable future for American higher education and scholarly communication, and if you are reading this newsletter and supporting Lever Press then I am sure you are, it is a book well worth reading.
—Jonathan Miller, Chair of the Oversight Committee