Among the many milestones in NIU’s evolution from teachers college to research university was the establishment in 1965 of the University Press. A growing portfolio of doctoral programs brought a new cohort of faculty with established research interests and published studies. President Holmes took great pride in showing visitors an entire shelf of books in his office written by NIU faculty.
Holmes recognized that published research brought a new level of prestige to the university, and established a committee to investigate the feasibility of establishing a university press at NIU. Chaired by E. Nelson James, the group visited several other nearby university presses and prepared a report that recommended establishment of a press at Northern.
A University Press Board was convened for the first time in May of 1965. The group considered three manuscripts from NIU professors and settled on Heartland: Poets of the Midwest, edited by Lucien Stryk of the Department of English as its first publication. They also hired Jack Barker, formerly director of the Northwestern University Press, to be the first director of the NIU Press.
Over the years, the Northern Illinois University Press has worked to support and enhance the reputation and research mission of the university by publishing outstanding works of scholarship for a global audience. The Press has long published major works in Russian, Slavic and Eurasian studies; European, Southeast Asian and American history; religion and philosophy. The NIU Press also publishes books on politics and American Midwest history and culture, and today has more than 600 books in print.
In July of 2019, the NIU Press became an imprint of Cornell University Press. NIU employs an acquisitions editor and a faculty press board to choose new publications, while Cornell handles editing, production, marketing and sales. Publishers Weekly called the arrangement “a model for the future of academic publishing.”
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