Franciscan University Press returns, headed by faculty


Ten years after the close of the original Franciscan University Press, the new press is in the process of getting on its feet.

This process was begun by the Rev. Sean Sheridan, TOR, president of Franciscan University, around the time of his inauguration.

Last summer, the editors of the new press joined with Catholic University of America Press, which will market the books. At first, the editors solicited manuscripts mainly by word of mouth. They were aided in this by an article that appeared in the autumn 2014 issue of Franciscan Way Magazine.

The motto of Franciscan University Press is “crede, intellige, dilige,” which is Latin for “believe, understand, love.” The press, following Augustinian and Franciscan tradition, will publish books that may not always be theological in subject matter but will still build on faith and seek to inspire readers toward God.

Jonathan Sanford, Franciscan philosophy professor and associate vice president for Academic Affairs, is the director of the press. The acquisitions editor is Stephen Hildebrand, theology professor and director of Franciscan’s M.A. theology program.

“I have often been interested in this kind of stuff, helping the university advance its academic profile,” said Hildebrand. “The press is (a) fantastic opportunity to do that.”

Several manuscripts have been submitted. One has nearly completed the review process and another is expected in the summer. Also in the works are two series: religion and society, and Catholic poetry. They are about nine months away from having a physical result, says Sanford.

Other topics that will be published include science, philosophy, theology and Catholic studies.

“We have exciting, interesting ideas about other kinds of books we can publish,” added Hildebrand.

With the old university press, there was no faculty involvement in the review of manuscripts. The new process ensures that the work is new, accurate and a significant contribution to the field.

After the acquisitions editor decides whether to review the manuscript, there is a series of peer reviews, sending the manuscript to experts in the field and then back to Hildebrand and to an editorial committee of Franciscan University faculty members. Sanford receives their recommendations and makes the final decision on publishing.

“That (process) is the most significant way it’s different,” said Sanford.

Another important difference is an increased focus on scholarly contributions, making the press more academic. The old press put out books such as the Rev. Michael Scanlan’s autobiography, “Let the Fire Fall.”

“We see value in those contributions, but that’s not the focus of the press,” said Sanford.

They are working on creating a web page that includes detailed information. The web layout is currently being developed by the Franciscan University communications department.