The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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An Oral History of the OSU Press

An interview with Jo Alexander and Jeff Grass conducted by Chris Petersen.

March 26, 2014


A native of England, Josephine Alexander (b. 1944) graduated from Exeter University in 1965 and began a long career in publishing, first at Mary Glasgow & Baker, then the University of London Press and finally Newbury House Publishers. In 1974 she emigrated to the United States and, not long after, was hired into the Managing Editor position at the Oregon State University Press. During her time with the OSU Press, Alexander wore many hats including manuscripts editor and book designer as well as duties associated with acquisitions and marketing. She formally retired from OSU in 2004 but continued working half-time for the Press until 2014.

Jeffrey B. Grass (b. 1948) graduated from the University of Oregon in 1970 with a bachelor's degree in Journalism. Hired as Managing Editor of the OSU Press in 1978, he was promoted to the position of Press Director in 1984. During his time as Director, the Press split from the Office of University Publications, with which it had been administratively organized since its founding in 1961. Grass also oversaw a significant expansion of the Press' publishing activity as well as dramatic increases in its revenue, visibility and distribution. He retired from OSU in 2003.

The OSU Press was established within the OSU Office of Publications by its first director, Ken Munford, in 1961. During its early years, the Press focused primarily on publishing monographs of research reports written by OSU faculty. Over time, the purview of the organization gradually expanded to include a much broader range of titles well beyond the product of the university, including memoirs and fiction. On the brink of elimination following major budget cuts in the early 1990s, the OSU Press now consistently publishes fifteen or more titles per year mostly focusing on the history, culture and personality of the Pacific Northwest. Separated from the Office of Publications in 1999, the OSU Press is now administratively organized in partnership with the OSU Libraries.