University Press of Kansas to continue its work under leadership of KU Libraries dean

LAWRENCE — The University Press of Kansas Board of Trustees, which is composed of the provosts from each of the six Kansas Regents institutions, has confirmed University of Kansas Dean of Libraries Kevin L. Smith to serve as director of the University Press of Kansas (UPK).

Smith, a well-known authority in the field of scholarly communications, will continue his role as dean in addition to serving as director of the press. This change will allow UPK to take advantage of publishing and scholarly alignment opportunities as well as operate in a more cost-efficient manner.

“Founded in 1946, and established as a consortium by the Kansas Board of Regents, UPK has been a part of our scholarly and academic communities throughout its history,” said Shirley Lefever, chair of the Board of Trustees and Wichita State University interim executive vice president and provost. “We are appreciative of the resources provided by KU Libraries to allow the board to continue its conversations about how to preserve this history while exploring options for the press’ fiscally responsible future. The board is confident in Kevin’s ability to serve in this leadership role.”

As part of this move, UPK will also begin a number of exciting initiatives, including the development of a new open access digital publishing program. This multidisciplinary platform will initially be targeted at faculty at the six Regents institutions, with a goal to expand as capacity and demand permits. UPK will continue to publish books in a traditional manner but intends to reduce its annual production to about 45 books, maintaining high standards of peer review and editorial production. It will continue with a 60/40 mix of scholarly monographs and trade books.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of UPK, which specializes in publishing works on American politics, military history and intelligence studies, American history, environmental policy and history, American studies, film studies, law and legal history, Native American studies, and books about Kansas and the Midwest.

Please visit their websites to learn more about the University Press of Kansas and KU Libraries.

University Press of Kansas Board of Trustees

  • Jill Arensdorf, provost and vice president for academic affairs, Fort Hays State University
  • Barbara Bichelmeyer, provost and executive vice chancellor, KU
  • David Cordle, provost and vice president for academic affairs, Emporia State University
  • Shirley Lefever, board chair, interim executive vice president and provost, Wichita State University
  • Howard Smith, provost and vice president for academic affairs, Pittsburg State University
  • Charles Taber, provost and executive vice president, Kansas State University

Kevin L. Smith, Dean of Libraries, University of Kansas

Smith earned a juris doctor from Capital University Law School, a master’s degree in library science from Kent State University and a master of arts in religion from Yale University Divinity School.

Smith joined KU Libraries as dean in May 2016. He previously served as the director of copyright and scholarly communication at Duke University and as the director of Library and Instructional Resources at Defiance College. Smith has also worked as an instructor, reference librarian and assistant librarian.

As the dean of KU Libraries, Smith advocates on behalf of the libraries, positioning the organization as an integral partner with the university’s academic and administrative units and ensuring its continued leadership in advancing research, teaching, inclusivity and global initiatives. Smith also facilitates external relations through outreach development and engaging in donor relations to solidify fundraising efforts.

Staff Picks: What We’re Reading – March, 2021

An Introduction to the Gospel of John – Don’t let the “Introduction to” title fool you. This is an engagingly written but deeply scholarly book (with a bibliography at the end of every chapter!), but that’s why I love it. No one was more of an authority on John than Fr. Brown, and this book is helping me understand what for me is the most difficult Gospel.    – Joyce Harrison

The Handmaid’s Tale – A dystopian novel set in near-future New England where a totalitarian state has overthrown the United States government. – Erica Nicholson



O.J. is Innocent and I Can Prove It – Since I was in fourth grade, and the verdict was announced, this case has always been a topic amongst my sisters. We can’t get enough true crime. My sister Melanie told me that I had to check out this book because she now has doubts that O.J. was the killer. It’s a quick read so far, and the evidence that Dear brings forward is astonishing and should not be ignored for the possibility to reopen the case. – Andrea Laws

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on EarthI’m currently reading Sarah Smarsh’s Heartland. It’s long been on my reading list, and hers is a story that resonates with me: the pearl-buttoned, plaid, threadbare shirts; the chapped and calloused hands; and the strong women. Sarah and I grew up about seventy miles away from each other, and the family that she writes about strikes a familiar and frank chord: one that I’ve surely heard at many a family gathering. – Kelly Chrisman Jacques

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life – I started reading William Finnegan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir of his life spent searching for waves to worship when it was -18 degrees in Lawrence. Now I’m ready for summer. – Derek Helms



The Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America by Laura Dassow Walls – Humboldt was a Prussian explorer who led a daring and scientifically productive expedition to South America and Mexico during the Jeffersonian era. He was the first scientist to predict man-made climate change and was also an outspoken advocate for Indigenous rights and the abolition of slavery. This book surveys his travels and scientific discoveries and traces his influence on American history, natural science, politics, environmentalism, art, and literature. – Karl Janssen

David Congdon specified his book picks by how he consumes them:





Obit – ebook

No One Is Talking About This – audio

Imagining Persecution: Why American Christians Believe There Is a Global War against Their Faith – print

Contingency and the Limits of History: How Touch Shapes Experience and Meaning – print