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The Written Word: West Point Press

Categories: Philanthropy & Donor Profiles, Academics

Showcasing Cadet and Faculty Academic Excellence

Throughout the centuries, and across many borders and battlefields, the written word—and the ability to share ideas—has been at the foundation of military advancement and intellectual rigor. For an institution of higher learning, especially one as unique as the United States Military Academy(USMA), a university press is essential for sharing the results of the research and academic pursuits by faculty and cadets with the global community beyond the Academy walls.

It is in this spirit that the West Point Press— USMA’s own university press—is conceived.

The West Point Press will serve as the internal publishing arm of USMA to showcase scholarly work produced by USMA faculty and cadets.
Existing and future West Point publications will be nested under the Press and focus on five main areas:

  • peer-reviewed academic journals
  • e-books and dynamic digital resources
  • print books
  • reports, white papers, timely articles, and other scholarly works of significance
  • a podcast featuring West Point Press authors, Academy researchers, and experts on a range of topics designed for those who are intellectually curious

The journals will feature a wide array of scholarly works authored by faculty, cadets, and thought leaders representing the breadth of the Academy’s academic disciplines and contributing to the body of foundational research and analysis drawn upon by policymakers and world leaders. With the rapidly and continuously changing nature of warfare creating complex problems on the battlefield, an integrative, cross-disciplinary approach is more necessary than ever. These journals will function as a primary piece of West Point’s intellectual infrastructure that seek to solve emerging issues and help prepare the Army at large to fight and win the conflicts of tomorrow. In keeping with West Point’s core values and high standards of academic excellence, all submissions will undergo a rigorous editorial selection and peer review process that will test the validity and soundness of scholarship by experts in the field, both internal and external to West Point. Importantly, the journals will highlight the distinctiveness for which West Point is well known and will make available to the public the full range and value of research relevant to military leadership, service, and development. Publications will be made available to key strategic leaders in the Army and Department of Defense, the military educational system, Congress, the media, think tanks and defense institutes, major colleges and universities, and the greater West Point alumni community.

West Point Cadets

With communication technologies continuously evolving, centralizing digital publication platforms is an integral component of the West Point Press mission. Digital media plays a significant role in the lives of cadets— so-called “digital natives”—and the global coronavirus pandemic further revealed the importance, feasibility, and reach of digital communications. As the roles and responsibilities of the Army continue to shift, it is critical for graduates to have the agility and imagination necessary to work in a variety of venues, as well as the ability to discern quality information online and to critically evaluate information sources. The West Point Press will leverage a nascent digital publication capability developed and generously donated by Vincent Viola ’77 to develop digital textbooks and other modern learning materials for cadets and students around the world. This digital capability has the potential to revolutionize the way the Academy distributes written works to create a more immersive learning experience.

The Press will also produce and distribute scholarly knowledge in the form of books. These books will feature content in the realm of STEM, the humanities, and social sciences, as well as topics related to West Point itself. Books produced by the West Point Press will adhere to the highest academic standards. All books will undergo a rigorous peer review process and require approval by an editorial board comprising senior USMA faculty. Books produced by the West Point Press will find their way onto the desks of key leaders in government, industry, and academia, further elevating the USMA brand.

In addition to books, the Press will distribute findings and recommendations from faculty and cadet research in form of white papers, reports, and scholarly articles. In each of
these endeavors, the Press will provide careful editorial guidance and development, professional-level copy editing and design, and extensive discoverability and promotion.

Finally, the West Point Press will produce a podcast that will feature conversations with experts, scholars, and authors on a range of topics. Episodes will feature content from recent and pending Press publications such as books, reports, and journal articles. Episodes will also highlight contributions from research being
conducted across the Academy’s various departments and centers and share information that aligns with or results from the Dean’s annual intellectual theme.

The Benefit to Leader Development

From its inception, the United States Military Academy has developed leaders of character through training and instruction that includes a focused study of the humanities. Indeed, the subjects of composition, literature and moral philosophy were taught by various departments as far back as 1802, and General Douglas MacArthur, upon his appointment to Superintendent of USMA in 1919, held the conviction that a well-rounded curriculum
was essential to educating cadets on the “mechanics of human feeling.” Today, this tradition continues, and the West Point Press directly supports each of USMA’s Strategic Imperatives for educating and inspiring leaders of character.

Brigadier General Shane Reeves ’96, 15th Dean of the Academic Board, USMA

“West Point is the intellectual engine of the Army’s innovation ecosystem, and the West Point Press will help share what that engine produces.”

— Brigadier General Shane Reeves ’96, 15th Dean of the Academic Board, USMA

With communication as the very first goal of USMA’s academic program, the ability to listen actively; read critically; speak effectively; and write with thoughtfulness, clarity, and purpose is critical for Army officers to accomplish missions across a spectrum of 21st century operations. The West Point Press will develop these skills in cadets through opportunities for authorship and scholarship, as well as foster their ability to use sound logic and relevant evidence to make convincing arguments across diverse audiences and appropriate forms of media. In addition to generating opportunities for institutional service, the Press will weave a thread of cadet engagement with other centers at USMA, such as the Mounger Writing Center, the West Point Writing Program, and the Center for Digital History (formerly West Point’s Cartography Center). Moreover, for USMA’s junior faculty—rotators who arrive at West Point having recently completed advanced degrees who will move back out to the operational Army following their tour—the Press will serve to develop and establish credentials and extend their authorial experience. The Press will keep West Point on the cutting edge of institutional relevance and preeminence and further USMA’s ability to competitively attract the best cadet and faculty candidates in the country.

From its position at the intersection of both premier military academy and top-tier college, as the world’s preeminent leader development institution, West Point is charged with facilitating the necessary interdisciplinary study of the future of warfare—and the West Point Press is an essential forum in which to do this. The West Point Press is a fundraising priority in the West Point Ready campaign. An endowment of the Press will not only extend West Point’s mission, influence, and long history of providing intellectual capital to the Army and the nation. It will meaningfully enhance the ability of faculty, staff, and cadets to deepen their expertise, grapple with complex problems, and leverage the independent publishing capability only an endowment can offer. This initiative will help the intellectual leadership and responsibility essential to USMA’s identity to flourish and become part of a legacy that has enduring importance for generations to come.

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