Before Director Robert Devens and Editor-in-Chief Dawn Durante even joined The University of Texas Press, each had their sights set on our publishing house.
When UT Press’ biannual catalogs would land on their desks — Devens at the University of Chicago Press and Durante at the University of Illinois Press — something about what was happening in Texas caught their interest. The covers of the catalogs, used to flaunt new books ahead of publication, are intriguing and beautifully designed. An array of subjects is featured, from border issues and popular music to architecture and ancient history. The acquisitions team serves the local scholarly community without straying from the contributions of others.
“Texas was always on my radar, because the Press was interesting and eclectic in a way that not every publisher is,” Devens says. “The catalogs make their way around, and you see what other publishers are doing, and I always thought, ‘These folks are doing some interesting stuff.’”
Devens liked it so much that when offered the chance in 2013 to join UT Press and eventually fill the editor-in-chief position, he packed up his wife and two children, who were very young at the time, from a well-rooted life in Chicago and moved south — to the dismay of said kids’ grandparents.
After years of acquiring titles in architecture, American studies and U.S. history as editor in chief, Devens became interim director in January 2020 and was officially named UT Press’ director that April. The team brought on Durante in August 2020 to fill the editor-in-chief post.
“I’ve been dreaming of being an editor in chief for a long time, so it truly is a dream come true at a press that I super admire,” Durante says. “I am glowing about it. I was also in the Midwest and very cold and really liked the idea of moving to a warmer location.”