Jun 20, 2019

Fresno State’s best-kept secret

University Press, a program in the College of Arts and Humanities, provides unique material to Fresno State professors and students.

Fresno State has a well-kept secret.

University Press, a small academic program run through the College of Arts and Humanities, assists professors by selling books and other instructional materials that often times aren’t available anywhere else. The program publishes history, literature and folk tale books specific to the culture of the Central Valley.

“I’ve been using materials from University Press for at least 15 years,” said Barlow Der Mugrdechian, a professor of Armenian studies at Fresno State. “I can get materials that I’m not able to get anywhere.

There are only two professors in the department, and we both use University Press texts.”

University Press offers 27 printed materials, including literary magazines and other academic publications, including art, autobiographical and architecture publications.

“We’ve had music professors use one of the resources in the collection, Flamenco body and soul which is now out of print,” said Carla Millar, assistant to the dean of the College of Arts and Humanities.

“Professors from different subjects use the publications we have available as the textbook for the class they teach.”

Millar said the most recent project for University Press is collaboration with the Tokiwa International Victimology Institute, based in Japan. The collaboration resulted in the online journal called International Perspectives in Victimology. The English version of the publication can be found on the University Press website.

“We have the collection located in a couple of storerooms,” said Millar. “We also have a new room in the library.”

Fresno State’s University Press is the only existing academic press in the California State University (CSU) system, as well as the longest running academic press. It was instituted in 1982 to give Fresno State access to publications that better reflected the local culture.

“University Press provides specific text and material that I can provide to my students,” said Der Mugrdechian. “It’s better material than a less-specific textbook, but there is no perfect textbook in the field, unfortunately.”

Included in the University Press collection are some new additions, including “The Artist and His Mother,” a nonfiction book by Pete Najarian about him and his mother, who survived the Armenian Genocide. The book is expected to go to print this month.

“From what I know, University Press hasn’t published a lot in recent years,” said Dave Tyckoson, Dean of the Henry Madden Library. “It’s not a public facility, so it’s kind of unusual for students to come through asking for resources from University Press.”

In addition to the new additions in the collection, a new issue of the organization’s literary magazine is set to release later this month as well. “The Normal School: A Literary Magazine” contains short fiction, narrative journalism, poetry and cultural critiques.

“We have some out-of-print material, including several Frank Lloyd Wright books that aren’t available anymore,” said Millar. “So some of the material we used to have we don’t have anymore, but we still have plenty of academic resources for students to utilize.”

One of the most unique publications the program has for sale is a collection of William Saroyan books, including “Warsaw Visitor and Tales from the Vienna Streets,” which is a compilation of the last 150 plays he wrote during his time in Paris, and “Where the Bones Go,” a book he wrote to ease his mental pain during the last months of his life a time he spent in Fresno.

University Press operates out of the College of Arts and Humanities Office in the music building.

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