Few things are more interconnected with the University Press of Kansas than Direct Mail and Exhibits Manager Debra Diehl and, after 35 years, May 14 marks her final day with the Press.
Diehl’s responsibilities at UPK extend far beyond those covered by her job title. She’s the resident expert on Press history, official favorite person in the office of visiting kids, and long-time recruiter of local wildlife.
“Debra’s career with UPK has been inspirational,” said Kelly Chrisman Jacques, UPK managing director. “While I wish her chapter in UPK’s book had been a couple of years longer, I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to work alongside her and learn from her. Deb’s sincerity, enthusiasm, patience, efficiency, and kindness have set the gold standard of exemplary performance and collegiality. She’s incomparable! I’ll miss Deb dearly, but I wish her only the best in her next chapter.”
Diehl’s extensive experience reaches beyond UPK’s walls. She’s represented the Press at meetings across the country and made sure books have traveled to events large and small. If there’s an event at which UPK books might be displayed, Deb knows about it.
“Deb is hands down the best exhibits manager I’ve worked with in over thirty years in publishing,” said Joyce Harrison, editor in chief. “It’s such a joy to come into an exhibit space, with tables to be put into place and boxes to open, and know that all of the books and supplies you need are there. Exhibits require a lot of advance work, and Deb goes about this work with stunning efficiency, especially considering the number of conferences we attend each year.”
As part of the marketing department team, Deb focused on promoting UPK books via the mail—postal and email—and arranging for them to be on display at conferences and events. Deb was originally hired as an office assistant and has worked for every department at the Press. Eventually, when the Press was able to increase its staff, a marketing assistant position was created and she started working with marketing. When the marketing department added another position, Deb moved into her role as direct mail and exhibits manager.
“Debra was on the committee that hired me,” said Suzanne Galle, marketing assistant. “In the many years that have transpired since, she has been a colleague, friend, and confidante all in one. I think all who have had the good fortune to work with her would say the same. Her skill, professionalism, and generosity have been a boon to both the press and all who have worked here. I will sorely miss working with her, but I look forward to seeing the good things that life’s next chapter has in store for her.”
Deb will begin work with Bowersock Capital Partners in Lawrence. It is undecided who will feed the birds and squirrels outside her office window.
“I’m glad that I help market a quality product,” Deb said. “Seeing a book ‘do well,’ whether that’s defined by sales, an award, or getting the author’s next project, is gratifying. But the most rewarding aspect of being at UPK is that I work with great people— people that I respect and like and admire. That’s been the case since day one.”