Robert Devens appointed director, Dawn Durante named editor in chief

"What strikes me about UT Press is its longstanding commitment to borders and borderlands"


The University of Texas at Austin has appointed Robert Devens as the next director of the University of Texas Press. He currently serves as interim director and served most recently as assistant director and editor-in-chief of UT Press. Devens succeeds David Hamrick, who retired on January 1, 2020.


“Robert’s deep knowledge of academic publishing, his experience at UT Press, and his collaborative relationships with the scholarly community at UT Austin are tremendous assets. During his time at UT, he has served as a visible, public ambassador for the Press by articulating the critical role of university presses in supporting faculty scholarship and research,” said Maurie McInnis, executive vice president and provost.


Devens brings to this position more than twenty years of experience in academic publishing. He began his publishing career at the University of Chicago Press, starting as an editorial assistant and working his way up to senior editor. During his thirteen-year tenure at Chicago, Devens acquired trade and scholarly books in American studies, history, and urban studies, including many bestselling and award-winning titles. He launched new book series in early American studies and Chicago history and fostered publishing relationships with the Newberry Library, the Chicago History Museum, the American Antiquarian Society, and others. Devens worked to establish an endowment to support highly illustrated books while also securing outside funding from a range of granting bodies, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Graham Foundation, and the College Art Association.


Devens joined UT Press in 2013 as assistant editor-in-chief, rising to the role of editor-in-chief in 2014 and assistant director in 2018. During these years, Devens has led the UT Press editorial department toward greater successes in all of its core areas—from the establishment of new series in fields ranging from Latinx studies to film studies, to more extensive general interest offerings in subjects such as music and Texana. He has also served as UT Press’s editor in architecture, American studies, and U.S. history, publishing award-winning books by faculty members at the University of Texas and beyond, and he has collaborated on publications with campus partners including the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, the Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports, the Harry Ransom Center, and the Blanton Museum of Art.


“I am thrilled to be the next director of the University of Texas Press. In my seven years at UT Press, it has been an honor to work with devoted authors and talented staff on such a stellar list of books and journals. I am particularly grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with so many UT scholars and partner institutions, and I am looking forward to working together toward even greater reach and success,” said Devens.


Following a nationwide search, Dawn Durante will become the next editor in chief of UT Press on August 10. As editor in chief, Durante will lead the editorial direction of the books program at the press, enriching and expanding a list of approximately one hundred new titles each year across a broad range of subjects, including U.S. history and American studies, women’s studies, and Black studies. 


“I am elated to be joining the University of Texas Press. It is a professional dream to be stepping into an editor-in-chief role, and I am fortunate to be doing so at a press I admire for its dynamic staff, talented acquisitions team, and its high publishing standards,” said Durante.


"What strikes me about UT Press," she continued, “is its longstanding commitment to borders and borderlands—geographic borders like the Texas borderland itself, the bounds of ancient empires, the conceptual borders of imperialism, and the expansion of intellectual boundaries in the fields the press serves, like contemporary American music, Latinx studies, and media and popular culture. I am delighted that I'll be able to continue to acquire books in familiar territories like history, American studies, and Black studies, while expanding my editorial frontiers to new areas. It is a true privilege to have the opportunity to fuse the UT Press publishing program with my editorial vision and to work with and support the acquisitions team along with the press's valuable network, particularly its authors, series editors, and advisory committee members." 


Durante joins UT Press from the University of Illinois Press, where she has served as a senior acquisitions editor since 2016. At Illinois, her acquisitions represent a broad range of intellectual commitments, from L.H. Stallings' multi-award-winning Funk the Erotic: Transaesthetics and Black Sexual Cultures to Emily Thuma's All Our Trials: Prisons, Policing, and the Feminist Fight to End Violence. She has published books that have won awards in a variety of disciplines, including the American Political Science Association's Michael Harrington Book Award, which recognizes books that demonstrate how scholarship can be used in the struggle for a better world, the American Historical Association's Wesley-Logan prize, and the Lambda Literary Award for the Best Book in LGBTQ Studies. 


Active in the Association of University Presses (AUPresses) community, Durante is recognized as a leader on issues like equity, mentorship, and professional development. In addition to her many presentations, Dawn has served on the AUPresses’ Task Force on Gender, Equity, and Cultures of Respect and was the chair of the association’s Professional Development Committee in 2017-2018. 


Durante brings a depth and breadth of knowledge and connections to our Acquisitions team as well as a clear and exciting vision for the future of the press. Director Robert Devens noted, “I could not be happier to be welcoming Dawn to UT Press. She brings to the position of editor in chief a stellar acquisitions background, a broad understanding of the publishing landscape, and the strong leadership skills to usher UT Press’s editorial program to its next successes.”


The University of Texas Press serves knowledge seekers in an information-rich world through the publication of books and journals in a wide range of fields. Our work is a focal point where the life experiences, insights, and specialized knowledge of writers converge to be disseminated in both print and digital formats. Established in 1950, UT Press has published more than three thousand books over six decades.