John Donatich named to fourth term as director of Yale University Press

John Donatich

John Donatich, who has guided Yale University Press’s growth and success as a global publisher for 15 years, has been named to a fourth term as director, announced Yale Provost Ben Polak and Susan Gibbons, university librarian and deputy provost for collections and scholarly communication.

Yale is extremely fortunate to have John Donatich at the helm of the Press,” said Polak. “John is navigating quite successfully a course that balances innovation with an unwavering commitment to publishing important, often award-winning, books.”

During his tenure, Donatich founded and fostered several publishing programs, such as the Cecile and Theodore Margellos World Republic of Letters series, dedicated to literature in translation; Jewish Lives, in partnership with the Leon D. Black Foundation; the Yale Drama Series, funded by the David Charles Horn Foundation, an annual international competition for new works by emerging playwrights; and the Little History series, now entering its 10th year.

John Donatich’s reappointment is welcome news,” said Julia Reidhead, president of W. W. Norton and chair of the board of governors of Yale University Press. “His deep publishing wisdom, discerning editorial taste, and energetic leadership are at the heart of Yale University Press’s reputation as a top-tier university press.”

Under Donatich’s leadership, the Press’s books and authors have won numerous prizes, including the Bancroft Prize, Louisville Grawemeyer Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Jewish Book Award, PROSE Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. When French novelist Patrick Modiano won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2014, the Press’s Margellos series was seen as prescient for having already in press the book “Suspended Sentences,” one of Modiano’s few works then available in English.

Donatich also forged alliances with authors and institutions at Yale. From the archives of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Press published “The Voynich Manuscript,” a facsimile edition of the 15th-century codex called the world’s most mysterious book. In association with the Windham-Campbell Prizes, the Press has launched a new series titled “Why I Write.” The first book in the series, “Devotion,” by Patti Smith, was just published in September and already is a national bestseller.

Donatich greatly expanded the Press’s art and architecture publishing program, which has produced award-winning titles as well as catalogues co-published with, or distributed for, many of the world’s foremost art museums. The Press is also establishing a new electronic portal, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, on which consumers and institutions can discover and access curated, customizable art and architectural history scholarship. Other digital initiatives include an award-winning iPad app based on “Interaction of Color,” the classic work by former Yale educator Josef Albers.

Donatich, whose fourth term will run through 2022, became the Press’s director on January 1, 2003. He holds a B.A. and M.A. from New York University. He previously served as vice president and publisher of Basic Books. He is a member of the boards of both the Association of American University Presses and the Association of American Publishers.