Heldref Publications, a nonprofit publisher of 40 scholarly journals and magazines, is expected in the coming weeks to sell most of its operation to a commercial publisher. The only journals that will not be sold will be several titles in international relations that will remain as Heldref shifts focus to becoming a foreign policy research and grant-making foundation, focused on the legacy of Jeane Kirkpatrick and her husband, Evron, who for many years helped to lead Heldref.
Jim Denton, executive director of Heldref since 2007, said that the organization was financially stable, which wasn't the case when he arrived. A statement from Denton said that the sale was planned for now because of "the consolidation and other changes taking place in the industry." He said that he did not anticipate that any of the journals or magazines would be discontinued.
Most of the 45 employees of Heldref, however, were told last week that their positions would be eliminated by the sale, and many are now job hunting.
Beyond publishing scholarly journals, Heldref publishes Change magazine, a bimonthly that has long been respected for its articles on higher education. Heldref published Change for the American Association for Higher Education, which distributed the magazine to its members, before that organization folded in 2005. Since then, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has provided support for the magazine, but Carnegie recently announced that given the magazine's improved financial state, it was ending its support in December.
In addition to Change, Heldref publishes several journals about higher education, including College Teaching and the Journal of American College Health. Many of the other journals are in various disciplines in the humanities, education, psychology, medicine and other sciences.
Heldref was created in 1956 by Helen Dwight Reid, a political scientist, as a foundation to support work in education, international affairs and the sciences. Much of Heldref's work shifted to publications in the 1970s, when Evron Kirkpatrick -- a political scientist who was then head of the foundation -- and other academics encouraged the move. Jeane Kirkpatrick was then a Georgetown University professor who went on to be a key figure in the neoconservative critique of American foreign policy, and a hero to many on the right (and the opposite on the left) when she was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the Reagan administration.