Nathan Hollier moves from Monash to take the reins at Melbourne University Press.
Nathan Hollier at the Monash University Publishing launch in 2010. Photo: Monash University via Facebook.
Nathan Hollier has been appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of Melbourne University Publishing (MUP), Australia’s oldest university press, MUP announced today. He succeeds Louise Adler who resigned in January along with five board members amid disputes about the role and direction of the publisher.
When Hollier steps into the role on 1 July, he will have some meaty problems to tackle as MUP has been the site of a very public debate on what a university press should be doing in today’s media and publishing climate.
The mass exodus in January was in response to the university pushing for MUP to focus more on scholarly publishing, and introducing an editorial board to approve publications. Former human rights commissioner Gillian Triggs and former NSW Premier Bob Carr were among the directors who quit, and Triggs told the media in January that she had heard the publisher’s titles unfairly described as ‘airport trash’.
Many voices then decried the narrowing of MUP’s purview. Other commentators, however, suggested that MUP had shifted too far ‘down-market’ with a spate of political memoirs from the likes of Mark Latham, Tony Abbott, Bill Shorten and Derryn Hinch, and even a cookbook from Shorten’s wife, Chloe Shorten.
Hollier is currently director at Monash University Publishing, and he told The Age that he expected to continue with a similar approach at Melbourne. ‘I’m going to try to publish books which are the most relevant and important for our times,’ he said. ‘With the print book we’ll be focused on addressing the major issues that we face as a nation and as a world. I think that the world really needs the book more than ever before. It remains a great vehicle for civilisation and spreading ideas and imagination.’
Keen eyes will be watching whether Hollier’s appointment means a shift in the intellectual and political direction of MUP. Prior to joining Monash in 2009, Hollier was an editor at the long-running left-leaning journal, Overland, from 2002 to 2007, and the founding president of the Small Press Network, a body representing small and independent publishers in Australia. He has an MA from Monash University in Literary Studies and a PhD from Victoria University in Australian literary and cultural history.
First published on