After serving as interim director since March 2020, JoAnne Banducci was named director of the University of Nevada Press on October 1. Banducci began her tenure at the Press in October 2009 as the business manager, and through her financial acumen, the Press is in a position to continue to build its ability to tell the stories that shape the American West.
“The variety of what we get to work on is exciting. We bring all kinds of books out into the world to help educate people,” Banducci said. “With my background, I look forward to running the Press more like a business. My predecessors in this role have come from acquisitions or marketing, but with my background in business management, I will approach operations from a different perspective.”
The Press has already benefited from Banducci’s skill at fiscal management. Since arriving in 2009, Banducci has helped the Press weather the fallout of two major financial challenges: The Great Recession and the budgetary uncertainties that resulted from the pandemic.
“We build our budget from the bottom up,” Banducci explained. “We revisit it as necessary and adjust accordingly.”
Through this fiscal discipline, the Press has thrived, publishing 21 books in 2020 and another 21 books in 2021, continuing a tradition founded 60 years ago.
About the Press
Enriching the lives of Nevadans
Established in 1961 by Robert Laxalt, the University of Nevada Press publishes scholarly works, creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry that focus on the geographic area of the West and the subjects that define its unique character. Laxalt’s biographer (Robert Laxalt: The Story of a Storyteller) and longstanding supporter of the Press Warren Lerude described Laxalt’s vision for the Press as amplifying the literary voice in Nevada. Thus, much as the University of Nevada, Reno has embraced its role as a land grant institution—meeting the needs of the community it serves through research, education and outreach—the University of Nevada Press identifies the highest quality works designed to enhance the lives of Nevadans. Recent publications include The Sagebrush State 6e, To Know a Starry Night and The Ghost Dancers.
While providing a breadth of coverage in topics of interest to Nevadans, the Press series offer depth of scholarship in ten strategically selected areas of emphasis:
The longest-running of these is the Basque Studies series. Launched in the 1970s by Robert Laxalt and William Douglass, books from this series cover all topics related to Basque culture. From language instruction books to Basque music, memoirs, literary criticism, history and novels, the series seeks to “bring the Basques to the attention of readers in the English-speaking world.” This tradition will continue in 2022 with the publication of an upcoming title, Jaialdi: A Celebration of Basque Culture, which provides a vivid photographic tour of the largest Basque festival in the United States. Held in Boise, Idaho, every five years, Jaialdi attracts 50,000 people and serves as an introduction to Basque culture.
In addition to bringing readers books of the highest caliber, the Press also plays a key role in the academic traditions of the eight member institutions of the Nevada System of Higher Education. For example, its Test Site Poetry Series complements the work of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’s Black Mountain Institute by publishing the winners of its annual poetry competition, and the Press has amplified the work of UNLV Gaming Press by distributing its publications. Like many textbooks the Press publishes, Michael S. Green’s Nevada: A History of the Silver State has been a mainstay in classrooms across Nevada since its initial publication in 2015, and The Sagebrush State by Michael W. Bowers, now in its 6th edition, is the standard textbook for the History 217: Nevada History class at Truckee Meadows Community College.
Banducci is also looking forward to identifying opportunities to help professors bring to press books and innovative projects that both fit the mission of the Press and serve the pedagogical needs of their disciplines. The recently published Latinos in Nevada: A Political, Economic, and Social Profile was not only edited by four faculty member of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (John P. Tuman, Tiffany O. Howard, Nerses Kopalyan, and David F. Damore), but it is also designed to facilitate instruction in the classroom about the growing and diverse Latino/a population. Meanwhile, the Press will publish its first dual language poetry book, To the North / Al Norte, in 2022; in 2020, it published a Spanish-language version of its title The Decline of Carlism; and plans to translate some of its most popular textbooks into Spanish are in the works. All of these efforts are intended to enrich the classroom and provide new learning opportunities for NSHE students.
About the publication-worthy scholarship conducted on NSHE campuses, Banducci said, “We’re here, and we’re here to help.”
The Press and the University of Nevada, Reno
From its inception, the University of Nevada Press has been housed on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. For the past 60 years, it has shared a productive partnership with the University—from distributing the work published in the William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies to documenting the historic campus of the original institution of higher education in the state, to providing an outlet for the scholarship of its professors and alumni.
Nevada Writers Hall of Fame member and University History Professor Emeritus James Hulse has published six books with the Press as the sole author. In 2018, he collaborated with Rod Haulenbeek and Department of English Professor Emerita Cheryll Glotfelty on a seventh book, Visitor’s Guide to the University of Nevada, Reno Arboretum. The Guide is an interactive tour of the University’s 200 species of trees and its 3,000 total specimens, which together have garnered the campus designation as a Nevada State Arboretum. One of the pioneers in Literature and the Environment studies, Glotfelty also edited a compilation of more than 200 writings in Literary Nevada, which one reviewer described as a “surprise in its revelation of the sheer volume of Nevada literature, its variety, and, best of all, its quality” (Lawrence I. Berkove, writing in Vol. 44 No. 1 of Western American Literature).
In 2019, the Press published Access for All: Expanding Opportunity and Programs to Support Successful Student Outcomes at University of Nevada, Reno, which shares the efforts of the University to support first-generation college students on campus. Later that same year, the Press published Collaborative Archaeology at Stewart Indian School. Edited by University Associate Professor of Anthropology Sarah Cowie, Director of the Burns Paiute Tribe’s Culture & Heritage Department Diane L. Teeman, and the University’s Heritage Consultant Christopher C. LeBlanc, the book explores the reform school’s attempt to forcibly assimilate Native populations at the turn of the twentieth century.
The upcoming publication of College of Science Research Associate Professor Zeb Hogan’s Chasing Giants: In Search of the World’s Largest Freshwater Fish further illustrates the Press’s efforts to record the history being made by the scholars on NSHE campuses. Hogan has spent his career studying the large and exotic fishes that populate rivers and streams the world over. His work has been the subject of television shows, and his project (Wonders of the Mekong) with the Nevada Global Water Center—in coordination with USAID and Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute of Cambodia—is designed to protect the ecosystems and biodiversity of the Lower Mekong, which supports more than 70 million people. Chasing Giants is dedicated to Hogan’s globetrotting and his efforts to explore and protect life-giving rivers and the species they support.
“Hogan’s travels and research need to be documented, and that’s what we’re doing with Chasing Giants,” Banducci said. “It’s an important work.”
The synergistic nature of the relationship between the Press and the missions of the NSHE system members is not lost on University of Nevada, Reno President Brian Sandoval. Housed as the Press is on the University campus, Sandoval has been able to witness the way its publications have enhanced the scholarly activity of the Wolf Pack Family.
“JoAnne’s leadership is already having a profound impact on how this mission is being accomplished by championing titles and storytelling that speak to the diverse communities of our state, as well as the work of our own faculty in key areas such as sustainability and the environment. The University couldn’t be more excited about the Press’ direction, and how it is meeting the literary and scholarly needs of Nevada.” University of Nevada, Reno President Brian Sandoval
“The University of Nevada Press, ever since its founding by Robert Laxalt, has greatly enriched the collective history and storytelling associated with Nevada as well as of the West. It possesses a significant role in the offerings of what a Carnegie R1 institution like ours has in ensuring the enduring value of works that are of intellectual and cultural significance,” University of Nevada, Reno President Brian Sandoval said. “JoAnne’s leadership is already having a profound impact on how this mission is being accomplished by championing titles and storytelling that speak to the diverse communities of our state, as well as the work of our own faculty in key areas such as sustainability and the environment. The University couldn’t be more excited about the Press’ direction, and how it is meeting the literary and scholarly needs of Nevada.”