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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Marquette University Press celebrates 100 years

Photo by Maryam Tunio
MU press celebrates its 100th year.

In 1992, philosophy professor Andrew Tallon had an idea. Tallon approached Frank Lazarus, former vice president of academic affairs, about the state of the Marquette University Press.

At the time, the press was publishing about three books a year, which included “The Aquinas Lecture in Philosophy,” “The Père Marquette Lecture in Theology” and “Mediæval Philosophical Texts in Translation.”

Tallon volunteered to take over everything and bring the Marquette University Press back to life.

The Marquette University Press, founded in 1916, publishes academic lectures, books and series related to philosophy, theology, history and other subjects. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the press. At the same time, Tallon, who has directed the press since taking over in 1992, is preparing to retire almost 25 years after rescuing the press.

“I’m happy that I did it,” Tallon said. “I’m happy that I got to take it out of dormancy into very active life for 25 years.”

After Tallon took over, Maureen Kondrick, current manager of the Marquette University Press, joined shortly after in 1995. Tallon began adding books and series to the press. The operation grew and soon the press was publishing book series in topics it covers today. To date, the press has nearly 500 books in print.

Thomas Jablonsky, professor emeritus of history and former director of the Institute for Urban Life, edited the Marquette University Press Urban Life Series, which started in 2001. With funding from the Institute for Urban Life, Jablonsky used his series to bring a scholarly focus to the history of Milwaukee and the rest of the state.

“The point of the book series was trying to take advantage of a home press, a university press,” he said. “This was a means to bring more attention to our history in Milwaukee.”

With Tallon and Kondrick running the organization, the press published more than 20 books per year at its peak. As director, Tallon is in charge of book acquisition and production, which includes page layout and design of books. As manager, Kondrick handles the business components of the press, such as finances, advertising and communicating with printing companies.

“We have been able to hold our own,” Kondrick said. “You’ve got to stay on top of everything and I think we were a good combo.”

Tallon is a former unordained Jesuit, a Korean War veteran, and a self-proclaimed computer nerd. He has been at Marquette since 1969.

“He really is self-taught and he is constantly re-educating himself,” Jablonsky said. “Procedures have changed in publishing and he always learned the latest technology.”

Kondrick said it has been an honor to work with Tallon and to see him balance his role as philosophy professor and director of the press.

“Everyone knows him as a teacher and I pretty much know him as the guy running the press,” she said.

As Tallon prepares for retirement, Kondrick will take over as the the interim director. James South, associate dean for faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences, will oversee the transition. Tallon expects to officially retire in August 2017.

This year is the final full year of production for the Marquette University Press. Tallon said after he retires, the press will enter a restricted publication schedule, which will include publishing the Père Marquette and Aquinas lectures. The press has also begun converting its publications to electronic books and print on demand.

Tallon said the press is going to be in a restricted publication schedule because the university can’t find someone with the requisite skills who can replace him at the press.

“I’m sorry it’s not going to continue at its full strength, but I understand the university doesn’t think of it as something they want to afford,” he said.

Jablonsky worries about a reduced life for the Marquette University Press. He said the press has made Marquette a recognized place for scholarship and provides an avenue for faculty at Marquette to have their work published.

“I have no doubt that the name of Marquette University will be less broadly recognized,” Jablonsky said. “There are Marquette voices that need expression, that need an outlet, and Dr. Tallon has made it easier to reach a much larger audience.”

In his time with the press, Tallon enjoyed watching philosophies and theologies evolve as the country evolves. He hopes the press stays active after he retires.

“I’ve only seen the last 25 years, but it’s been a real ride,” Tallon said. “I’ve loved it and I’m happy I had a chance to do it. I want to wish Maureen and James a very good next 100 years.”

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