Education and research are essential domains in society, and this is even more true in times of crisis and uncertainty when there is a growing need for experts and researchers who can guide, explain, provide new insights, critically evaluate, and dare to ask the right questions.
Please introduce yourself briefly
Veerle De Laet, born in Lier, studied history at the University of Antwerp and KU Leuven. She obtained her doctorate at the University of Antwerp, held a postdoctoral position at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, and then started as an acquisitions editor at Leuven University Press. From 2016 onwards she has been working as director and in that capacity she has been the representative of the Flemish publishers in the Federation of European Publishers (FEP) since 2020.
How did you come to work at UPL?
Like any other researcher in a post-doc position, I regularly asked myself: what's next? I never had a clearly defined career plan. I have always felt comfortable in different contexts and like to seize opportunities. When at one point a vacancy opened up for an acquisitions editor - a job title completely unfamiliar and yet intriguing to me - I felt enormously attracted to the position. With each sentence of the job description, I thought: yes, this is it! This is what I would really like to do. And so it happened.
And, of course, the outstanding team at Leuven University Press that I have the pleasure of working with on a daily basis: all of them highly qualified people with a sense of humour and a strong dedication to their job.
Which projects/activities are you particularly proud of?
I think the most fascinating book projects are the ones that can be brought to a successful conclusion in spite of vast geographical distances. These are book projects with authors on different continents, in different time zones, sometimes living and working in very different contexts, but when on the same wavelength, it is possible to jointly accomplish something highly valuable. Some recent titles come to mind, such as Public Administration in Ethiopia with about 30 Ethiopian authors, Lumumba in the Arts, a benchmark work with a mixed academic-artistic approach, or Worlds in a Museum in collaboration with Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Where do you see the future of Leuven University Press?
More than ever, Leuven University Press matters - and by extension, all university presses with a distinct academic and social mission.
Education and research are essential domains in society, and this is even more true in times of crisis and uncertainty when there is a growing need for experts and researchers who can guide, explain, provide new insights, critically evaluate and dare to ask the right questions.
Leuven University Press takes its academic-social role seriously. In recent years, we have published several titles that emphatically address current issues and thus make a well-founded contribution to debates about post-colonialism, feminism, human rights, migration, experiences of dislocation. Leuven University Press also consciously continues to provide a forum for research domains and disciplines that want to make a robust and fundamental contribution alongside these pressing topical issues, and that want to take the slow and profound developments within the social sciences and humanities forward. This is at least as important to Leuven University Press. As is the collection of textbooks, which has grown considerably over the past few years, has become more diverse and aims to contribute to the scholarly training of young people.
And last but not least, there is the movement towards Open Science and Open Access, which has gained momentum in recent years and which Leuven University Press has embraced for the full 100%. Being able to share scientific insights with readers worldwide and giving them access to new knowledge, unhindered by financial thresholds, is the pinnacle of scientific publishing. We are therefore proud of the growing collection of titles - across all disciplines - available in OA. We are most grateful to KU Leuven for actively and structurally supporting this future-oriented path in the Leuven University Press publishing policy.
Pictures: Veerle De Laet (2018) // Veerle De Laet and Marike Schipper at the 45th anniversary reception of the Press in 2016 // Part of the Leuven University Press team (2018)