John Donatich, Director of Yale University Press

February 23, 2024

Dear Members of the Yale Community,

I write to share the news that John Donatich, director of Yale University Press, has decided to retire on June 30, 2025. John has served with distinction for over twenty years, and he will be greatly missed.

Since arriving at the Press in 2003, John has expanded its award-winning trade list, transformed its scholarly publishing programs, and forged numerous new publishing and distribution partnerships. Under John’s direction, the Press published books by Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, and its works have received awards that include the Bancroft Prize, Wolfson History Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, and National Book Award. In addition, he has strengthened its financial footing by spearheading fundraising efforts in excess of $40 million.

As founding editor of the Cecile and Theodore Margellos World Republic of Letters, John has brought treasures of world literature into the English language. Authors published include Adonis, Norman Manea, Pierre Michon, Can Xue, Serhiy Zhadan, and three recent Nobel laureates: Annie Ernaux, Elfriede Jelinek, and Patrick Modiano. Other successful series conceived or overseen by John include Why X Matters and several short, thematic biographies series: Jewish Lives, Ancient Lives, and the recently launched Black Lives. John also partnered with the Windham Campbell Literature Prizes at Yale to publish the annual “Why I Write” lectures delivered by the prizes’ keynote speakers, such as Joy Harjo, Eileen Myles, and Patti Smith. The Little History series, now entering its seventeenth year, has built on the success of E. H. Gombrich’s A Little History of the World, which the Press first published in 2005 and has sold over 1 million copies worldwide.

During his tenure, John has fortified and innovated the Press’s scholarly publishing programs and contributions, publishing works by such established and emerging scholars as Leo Damrosch, Manisha Sinha, and Stephanie Jones-Rogers, as well as eminent Yale scholars spanning Abbas Amanat, Ned Blackhawk, David Blight, Harold Bloom, Carlos Eire, Paul Kennedy, Ben Kiernan, Priyamvada Natarajan, Frances McCall Rosenbluth, James Scott, and Odd Arne Westad.

John’s accomplishments include a slate of programs to preserve scholarship and propel academic inquiry into the digital age. The 2007 launch of the Anchor Yale Bible Series digitized and revitalized this ongoing enterprise renowned for excellence in biblical scholarship. In 2011, the Stalin Digital Archive digitized and expanded the Press’s extensive list in Soviet history. In 2013, the Interaction of Color mobile app and microsite received several awards and accolades. The Art and Architecture ePortal, launched in 2019 with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is the first aggregated site to host historical content of illustrated art.

John’s enduring legacy includes the expansion of Yale University Press’s world-renowned art and architecture list to encompass monographs, trade books, exhibition and collection catalogues, and catalogues raisonnés, with about fifty Press-originated publications and over 100 distributed or buy-in titles published each year, including catalogues from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and dozens of museums from around the world. He also expanded the Press’s offerings in fashion history, including the popular Catwalk series, with authoritative books on such consequential designers as Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Miuccia Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Vivienne Westwood.

We are grateful that John will oversee the success of several initiatives before his retirement. Last year, for example, he initiated the agreement for a new sales and distribution partnership with W. W. Norton & Company—only the third change in distribution in the Press’s 115-year history. He is now shepherding the Press through this significant transition as Norton begins to handle sales and distribution of Yale’s list to wholesale, retail, library, and specialty accounts.

Our community will have opportunities to celebrate John’s many achievements in the coming year, and we will launch an international search for his successor. For now, please join me in thanking John for his visionary leadership and in wishing him well in his next life chapter.


Peter Salovey
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology