After 24 years with the University Press of Florida (UPF), acquisitions editor and former director Meredith Morris-Babb will retire on October 1, 2020.
Beginning her publishing career with William C. Brown Publishing and having also served as acquisitions editor at the University of Tennessee Press, Babb joined UPF in 1996 as editor-in-chief and became director of the press in 2005. She retired after 14 years as director in 2019 and has since continued to serve in the capacity of acquisitions editor.
Romi Gutierrez, who succeeded Babb as director, says, “Meredith’s career in publishing is the stuff of legends. In over two decades at UPF, she changed the press for the better in innumerable ways. Her mark on the press is indelible. But she is more than a colleague; she is an experienced mentor, a trusted advisor and an ever-supportive friend. Although she will be greatly missed, we wish her the best in this new and exciting phase of her life.”
As UPF director, Babb fostered relationships between UPF and the 11 universities it represents from the State University System of Florida. Babb collaborated with the University of Florida to create the University of Florida Press and to establish the press’s journals program, which is in its fifth year and currently features 10 journals.
During her time at UPF, Babb acquired approximately 1,000 titles, greatly expanding the press’s lists in history, archaeology and anthropology, space studies, dance and gardening, among other subjects. Books acquired by Babb include The History of Florida, edited by Michael Gannon; The Final Mission: Preserving NASA’s Apollo Sites, by Lisa Westwood, Beth Laura O’Leary, and Milford Wayne Donaldson; and Dancing in Blackness: A Memoir, by Halifu Osumare.
Babb served as president of the Association of University Presses in 2015–2016, in which role she emphasized the importance of collaboration and adaptation in navigating changes transforming the scholarly publishing ecosystem. Hallmarks of Babb’s publishing career, these principles are the reasons she is optimistic about the future of academic publishing. In her parting remarks as outgoing director, Babb said of university presses, “Adaptation is our strength and resilience.”
Founded in 1945 and celebrating 75 years in 2020, the University Press of Florida is the official publisher of the State University System of Florida. UPF has published over 2,500 books since its inception and currently releases approximately 80 new titles each year. Its publishing strengths include archaeology, history, literature, Latin American studies, African American studies, space studies, dance, sustainability, and Florida history and culture. UPF engages educators, students and discerning readers by producing works of global significance, regional importance and lasting value.