Cornell University Press

The End of a Marketing Era: Celebrating David Mitchell

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What do you do when a marketer of immense experience and knowledge tells you they are retiring? That is the question I have been pondering over the past few weeks.

David Mitchell, our Exhibits, Awards, and Advertising Coordinator, let me know that he is hanging up his marketing boots and retiring. Today is his last day. Considering he’s been with Cornell UP for almost twenty-two years, those are some sizable boots he’s found a hook for.

David takes with him knowledge of the job, our books, and marketing more generally that cannot simply be replaced with a new hire. His ability to juggle so many different balls over the past two decades, while accumulating information that is always at the ready should it be needed, is a priceless resource passing out of the halls of Sage House.

His work in ensuring that exhibits are booked and ready and branded will be impossible to replicate. The alacrity and sagacity with which he enters books for awards has seen us garner incredible numbers of prizes over the years. And, more recently, David has pushed our email course adoption marketing efforts to new heights.

But David is so much more than the tasks he does or the experience he possesses. He is (and has been) the finest of colleagues. He is a wit that is sharp and welcomed when relief from the day-to-day treadmill is needed. He is an ear ready and willing to listen to ideas, grumbles, and stories no matter what else he has to do. He has always been willing to offer advice and make suggestions to help others improve or grow.

I have only had the pleasure of working with David for five and half years, but there are colleagues in the marketing team and beyond who have collaborated with him for far longer. I turned to some of those colleagues for a little more evidence of David’s value, and friendship and I share that here, now.

Jonathan Hall, Digital Marketing Coordinator:

David was always a pleasure to work with as he was professional, had a great attention to detail, and always had a funny quip to add. His one-liners highlighting some ridiculous nature of the task at hand were always spot-on. Over the many years we worked together, I valued his opinions on our marketing strategies and his insights into the world of academic conferences. What I valued most, however, were the fun stories David shared of his life outside of work—a life dedicated to an always-growing fascination, love, and expertise with the world of plants, flowers, and trees. I’m quite confident that had they lived during the same time, David and Liberty Hyde Bailey would have been the best of friends because David has an abundance of what Bailey calls “the garden sentiment”—a sense of immense kinship with plants that “lies deeper even than the colors, the fair fragrances, and the graces of shape. It is the joy of things growing because they must.” This dynamic growth, this upward trajectory now propels David forward as well as he steps into a new chapter of his life. We will miss David at the Press but are excited to see what new and beautiful things he will now grow in the grand garden of the world.

Karen Laun, Assistant Managing Editor:

I’ve been a coworker of and friends with David Mitchell for almost twenty years—which seems impossible. Where does the time go? He’s one of those workers who keeps things running so smoothly and seamlessly in the background, in all his varied and constantly changing job responsibilities, that most people probably don’t realize what he does. The Press has been lucky to have him. But mostly I’m grateful we’ve become good friends, and now neighbors! Even though he is retiring and abandoning me at the office, I know we can look forward to future lunches and buying of antique chairs—no matter what Michael says.

Mahinder Kingra, Editorial Director:

David is the very definition of laconic: He says only what needs to be said and when he does offer his opinions or advice, he is almost always right. Long before social media, David’s work with both book exhibits and award nominations was the public face of the press, and he took that responsibility seriously, ensuring that editors out in the wild had all the supplies they might need at a conference or checking to see which Cornell authors were appearing on panels to make sure that their books would be on display. Similarly, with award nominations—a vital, if often thankless task at a university press—he put a lot of care into matching books to awards and vice versa, while always being suspicious of more grandiose claims by author or editor. But beyond his professional demeanor, David has been a great colleague and a good friend. Because he says so little and can be direct, he acquired a bit of a reputation at the press for being grumpy, even a little fearsome. But spending five minutes with David made clear that he is gentle and generous and one of the wittiest of people. His humor is as dry as a perfect martini, and often as refreshing, especially when facing all the usual challenges of this challenging vocation we have chosen. I will miss David’s skepticism, his good-natured cynicism, and above all else, his genuine camaraderie.

As he moves into this next part of his life, we at Cornell University Press wish David the very best. Thank you, David, for everything you have done and everything you have meant within and to the old halls of Sage House.

– Martyn Beeny, Marketing and Sales Director

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