In spring 2000, UNC Press marked the beginning of the new millennium by welcoming Chuck Grench as our new senior editor for history. Chuck was already well known to many in the university press community, having spent 25 years in the business before leaving Yale University Press for the warmer climes of North Carolina. But over the last 20 years, he has built many new relationships, not only in Chapel Hill but throughout the world of scholarly publishing. Whether you’ve broken bread with him, kibitzed at a conference booth, or merely seen him across the exhibit hall scrambling on top of a table to help hang our banner and posters, chances are you’ve found him as we have known him—a nimble and curious thinker, a builder of lasting partnerships, a consummate professional, a cherished colleague.
So with a mix of admiration, gratitude, celebration, and a hint of sadness, we are sharing the news that Chuck Grench will retire from UNC Press on April 30, 2020. Though Chuck’s plans have been in the works since early in the new year, we had originally hoped to mark the announcement at the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians, which had been slated to meet in Washington, D.C. earlier this month. Though the coronavirus pandemic had other plans, we want to share the news with our community of authors, colleagues, and friends so that you can share your well wishes during this time.
Over the last two decades, most recently as executive editor, Chuck has helped catalyze many changes that have shaped UNC Press into the publisher it is today. On arriving from New Haven, he quickly built on the existing strengths of our list, acquiring prizewinning books in African American history and southern history while pushing into new areas such as western history, Latino and Chicano history, borderlands history, and more. He joined the Press very soon after the launch of our John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture (co-edited by Patricia Sullivan and Waldo Martin) and was integral to its growth and development. He later initiated the creation of the David J. Weber Series in the New Borderlands History (co-edited by Andrew Graybill and Ben Johnson) and helped the Press forge a vital new relationship around the series with the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University. Chuck also built a distinguished list in Cold War-era and diplomatic history (particularly via the New Cold War History series, edited by Odd Arne Westad), acquired valuable projects for the Press’s Civil War-era and women’s history lists, and curated a fascinating cluster of books on the history and practice of craft in America. He has especially cherished his role as the Press’s primary liaison to the books publishing program of the Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture. Books by Chuck’s authors have earned virtually every major prize given for work in the field of U.S. history, and the work he has edited will continue to shape the field for years to come.
It would be easy to continue listing Chuck’s accomplishments, particularly if we include his many successful years at Yale. But those of you who know and love Chuck will appreciate that the most important thing is not what he did but how he did it. Chuck’s integrity, collegiality, tireless advocacy for his authors, and unfailing good spirit have been his calling card for nearly half a century. And that’s what those of us who have been honored to work with him will remember the longest.
Please join all of us at UNC Press as we honor Chuck as he nears the end of a terrific career and wish him well on all his next endeavors.
Wyndham Editorial Director, UNC Press