Obituaries

Remembering Jim Clark, long-time head of UC Press

Clark, Jim

Jim Clark was director of the UC Press for 25 years

James H. Clark, director of the University of California Press for 25 years (1977-2002), died on January 14 after a long battle with cancer. He was 81.

Jim Clark was born in Chicago on August 30, 1931, the son of James and Millie Clark.  He served in the Air Force during the Korean War, went to college on the G.I. Bill, and graduated from UC Berkeley.

Clark had a lengthy and distinguished career in publishing, starting in 1960 when he began his life’s work as a sales representative for Prentice Hall in Northern California. Five years later, he was promoted to editor in the company’s New Jersey office. He acquired books in anthropology, sociology, drama, music, and art prior to his subsequent appointment in 1969 as editorial director of the College Division at Harper and Row. One year later, he was named the Division’s vice president and publisher.

In 1977, Clark returned to California as director of University of California Press. He spent the next 25 years building what would become one of the top university presses in the country – expanding both the scale and stature of its program. During Clark’s tenure, UC Press’s annual revenues increased from $3 million to $20 million; the number of new books published each year leapt from 80 to 180; and the journals program grew from 6 to 30 publications annually.

Clark oversaw the publication of The Plan of St. Gall, a beautifully illustrated three-volume work detailing the architecture and life of a Carolingian monastery – a landmark UC Press book. Throughout his directorship he never stopped working as an editor. Over the years, he acquired a wide range of books, including a stunningly illustrated edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Art of Richard Diebenkorn, Snakes: The Evolution of Mystery in Nature, and In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great.

UC Press won a number of important awards during Clark’s directorship, including, in 2000, the top honor from the PEN Center USA West for publishing outstanding works of scholarship and, in 2001, a special commendation from the State Legislature for publication of Literature of California, Volume 1.

Among Clark’s other major achievements was to establish the UC Press Foundation, which raised over $8 million in long-term funds that support UC Press’s publishing programs.  Under his direction, UC Press engaged in the first two of its three successful National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant campaigns.

Since his retirement in 2002, Clark lived in Princeton, NJ with his wife, Isabelle Clark-Deces. In retirement, Jim remained active in scholarly publishing in a cherished new role – working with graduate students to revise and develop their dissertations for publication.  He was an avid reader and swimmer, and he audited classes at Princeton for the pure enjoyment of lifelong learning.

Beloved by colleagues, authors, family, and friends, he is survived by his wife, Isabelle Clark-Deces, his children, Jim Clark and Garrette Clark (and son-in-law Robert Gould), his two granddaughters, Lea and Erica Gould, and his sister and brother-in-law Julie and Bob Fouts.

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