Meet a Tiger: John Morgenstern
Spotlighting research. This Tiger helps writers share their research with the broadest audience possible, while expanding the university’s academic reputation around the world.
Meet John Morgenstern.
Title: Director, Clemson University Press
Years at Clemson: Seven
What I do at Clemson: I lead a small, but dedicated staff who acquire, edit, design, market, promote and distribute books, book series, academic journals and a literary magazine. We print thousands of books each year, which circulate the globe. I’m the lead curator of our publishing program, the primary contact for our internal and external partners and our chief business officer. Publishing involves close collaboration between authors, editors, the team who transforms each manuscript into a book or journal article and the people who make it available to the world. It also requires constant innovation – academic disciplines reinvent themselves, technologies change and business models adjust to confront new challenges. My work happens where these things intersect.
What I love about Clemson: At the end of academic job interviews, committees always ask, “Do you have any questions?” In my first ever interview, I asked “Are there opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration?” The committee waffled, flinched even. In contrast, when I interviewed at Clemson, the committee responded “absolutely,” and this sense of community across colleges and disciplines truly sets us apart from other universities. As the director of our press, I get to meet faculty, staff and students from all corners of campus; when I’m lucky, I get to collaborate with them to tell Clemson’s history, make research vital to our state and region available and promote our thriving research culture. More generally, I value how much I learn every day about publishing, about the scholarly fields in which we publish and about the rich history and traditions of our university and region.
My defining moment at Clemson: In the fall of 2015, we started a search for a managing editor. It took months and months to find the right person, but we did; Alison Mero joined the team in January 2016. When she came on board, my long-term goals for the press seemed achievable for the first time.
Accomplishment I’m most proud of: For the past several years, I’ve devoted myself to increasing the profile and productivity of our press. It’s gratifying to watch those efforts bear fruit. All of our books are now distributed worldwide in multiple formats—it was a proud moment when I saw the first Clemson book available on Amazon and on all comparable sites across Europe, Asia and Australia. It’s also a proud moment every time a new book arrives from the printer—it’s a marvelous feeling to hold a book in your hands knowing how much work went into writing it and the number of people who contributed their talents and expertise to bring it into the world.
Where I see myself in five years: I hope to be where there are lots of books. I also hope to finish one that I started writing a decade ago.
Last thing I watched on TV: Cheers, if you can believe it. I prefer to watch shows I’ve already watched over and over again. I actually wore out a set of Golden Girls DVDs in graduate school.
Guilty pleasure: I try not to look at any computer screen on Saturdays. It doesn’t always work, but it’s always the plan. A good day usually includes a long walk with my dog, Henry.
One thing most people don’t know about me: I lived in Europe for the better part of a decade (in France, England and Germany) and I once turned down lunch with Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II.
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