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University journal reaches 60-year anniversary

Internationally and locally known university journal, The Midwest Quarterly, turned 60 this year since its origin in 1959. In celebration of this anniversary, university staff and faculty gathered in the Graduate & Continuing Studies room of Russ Hall Monday, Oct. 22 for cake and celebration.

The Midwest Quarterly has featured 60 years worth of scholarly articles and poetry, featuring work by university professionals and more. This year’s October issue is dedicated to the journal’s first editor-in-chief Dudley Cornish.

Dudley Cornish served as the journal’s first editor-in-chief from October 1959 to 1967. Casie Hermansson, university professor of English and modern languages, serves as the journal’s current editor-in-chief. Hermansson calls this issue the “birthday” issue.

“I’m honored to be the editor-in-chief when it achieves this milestone, it’s an exciting time and I do love to have a party,” Hermansson said. “… As far as what it means for the journal, I think it’s really an astonishing feat, particularly in these times when journals are folding left and right… So it’s like journals live and die, but university journals are a bit of an endangered species… But for us to still be out here doing all this ourselves is unusual and quite admirable, I think.”

Over six decades, the journal has become more than a localized journal, reaching locations across the world. This year’s issue will be comprised of four print editions: Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer. The journal publishes five academic articles from various areas as well as poetry.

“Anyone can submit work… it is a scholarly journal so it tends to be academics all over the world,” Hermansson said. “We’re constantly getting submissions from Singapore, and Germany, and England, as well as all over the United States. It’s really exciting because I also know that within three weeks of publication of the print issue all of the articles that we produce will be in the databases, so they’re available to researchers globally… I find that just very gratifying that we are part of the global conversation… It’s just another one of those hidden things that nobody would think about Pittsburg State University…”

The journal is comprised of board members, acting as journal editors, with representation from all different departments on campus. Don Viney, professor of philosophy, is a 32-year member since joining in 1987.

“It’s been great because you read things that from all kinds of different disciplines and things that I wouldn’t read otherwise, so it’s been kind of an education,” Viney said.

Among board members’ responsibilities are reading submissions and providing judgment for either acceptance or rejection, and then responding to those submissions. For Viney, though, he has more of a personal connection to the journal.

“… We’re honoring Dudley Cornish and I knew him,” Viney said. “He had retired just about the time I got here… So, but I knew him… I got to know him and he was just wonderful… It’s kind of neat now that I’m older and I know some of these people… Now we’re honoring Dudley with an issue, and I love what Casie wrote about him, so good…”

Viney first got involved with The Midwest Quarterly when he joined staff in 1987 and submitted a summarized version of his dissertation, along with a few more pieces in the years following.

“Now, we’re specifically associated with the graduate office, so in a sense now we have a home, but still our mission hasn’t changed,” he said. “… Well, (the journal) is subtitled ‘A Journal on Contemporary Thought’ and it’s supposed to, it’s aimed at kind of scholarly but nontechnical articles … if it’s of general interest and it’s scholarly, this is the place for it. …  It’s an important face of the university that’s academic but nontechnical that makes us visible really all around the world. We’re visible over seas and here. We’re not a big school, but we’re known.”

PSU President Steve Scott spoke in honor of The Midwest Quarterly’s longevity.

“I did ask the question ‘why has it persisted?’” Scott said. “I think the number one reason is it’s added value, if it didn’t it would not… so it did add value, and I also think there’s been a consistent appetite for adaptation, There’s been an agility and flexibility to continue to evolve over time and the leaders have helped make that happen… I’m here to say on behalf of the university I appreciate the work of everyone involved and I look forward to 60 more years.”

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