Rutgers University Press Equity Action Plan

Mission Statement

At Rutgers University Press we strive to train students, solicit books (and peer reviewers for them), work with our many publishing partners, as well the larger marketplace of book selling, with a sharp eye on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) principles and values.  This includes hiring a diverse range of student interns and training them for a future in publishing; acquiring books by authors who represent many voices in academia and in the world of writing and research; soliciting peer reviewers whose perspectives match those of our authors; and by working conscientiously with our vendors and service partners on ensuring their DEI principles are aligned with ours and the university’s. Much of our work has historically been linked to questions of diversity, equity, and inclusion, as our list has focused on the previously-unheard voices of scholars and everyday people around the world.

Goals and Action Steps

We have worked to institutionalize internal practices that allow us to build a culture of inclusion that reflects the impulses of our publishing program.  This has included training graduate and undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds in the craft of publishing and then encouraging and assisting them to find jobs in university and commercial presses, an industry that suffers from a dearth of diversity historically.  On the staff level, we have instituted a DEI subcommittee to inform our practices in the office and in the way we work with other presses that are members of our trade association, the Association of University Presses (AUP), which has a DEI committee that is developing its own plan, and in which we are actively involved.  We are also working hard to connect our work as publishers with knowledge production at the university, especially in units and programs committed to DEI research and new modes of thinking of traditional research with an eye towards diversity and inclusion.  As a small staff, we are working continually on the ways in which senior and junior staff communicate with each other on questions of diversity, including establishing small staff groups to examine the way DEI issues can be brought to bear on training and advancement, and also in the way we solicit peer reviewers and authors. As such, we have instituted the following actions:

  1. Formalize our diversity recruitment of student interns and actively prepare them for a career in publishing and allied fields.  This has started and is ongoing, and we have asked the respective manager of the department recruiting each student to report back on their work to the Press management team.  The AUP has active diversity employment grants available, and we will direct interested students to those opportunities as they graduate.
  2. Conduct a comprehensive diversity survey of our authors, peer reviewers, and other scholars connected to the Press’s publishing program.  Our DEI subcommittee has already completed the survey, having received almost 1,700 responses.  The subcommittee will have completed its analysis by December, 2021, and report back to the AUP’s DEI committee as part of the Association’s own DEI action plan by January, 2022.
  3. Ongoing building of partnerships with other units of the university and other university presses committed to publishing scholarship linked to DEI research.  For internal partnerships, this includes publishing books like our Scarlet and Black series, and for external partnerships, this includes ensuring that our current and new partners have DEI plans that align with the university’s.  This will be the responsibility of the Press director, the editor-in-chief, and each acquiring editor. This has already been implemented, and has been integrated into our acquisitions workflow, including charging one executive acquiring editor who is responsible for building internal partnerships, and we plan in the next 12 months to have concrete projects planned for publication that are directly connected to DEI research centers that have been created by the university.  The executive editor will meet with the director and have an initial overview of possible partnerships by January, 2022, and will have plans in place with other units of interest by June, 2022.
  4. We will gather and the DEI plans of our business partners.  These partners include our warehouse distribution service, our production and printing partners, and our foreign sales agent.  Where partners are still in the midst of forming their own plans, we will ask if we can suggest ways in which their plans align with the university’s own mission.  This effort includes ensuring that any new partners make their DEI plans part of their proposals to partner with us.  The Press director is responsible for this, and work began in August, 2021.  While this is an ongoing effort, we have asked current partners for either their DEI plans, or progress toward them, by the spring of 2022.