The Urbanowski Memorial Innovation Fund

The Urbanowski Memorial Innovation Fund honors the legacy of visionary director Frank Urbanowski (1936-2015) who led the MIT Press for almost 30 years, from 1975 to 2003. The Press's enduring innovative spirit draws inspiration from Urbanowski, who was responsible for pioneering our first open access book and establishing the MIT Press Bookstore, among other accomplishments.

The Fund “future-proofs” the Press by supporting innovations in digital publishing, along with the Press’s mission-driven publication efforts. It covers full or partial publication costs of high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarly books.

Remembering Frank Urbanowski

Frank Urbanowski served as director of the press from June 1975 to January 2003, and is acknowledged as a pioneer in the strategy of the focused disciplinary specialization now widely adopted by university presses. Shortly after his arrival at the MIT Press, Urbanowski devised and implemented the publishing strategy that was fundamental to its success: focusing acquisitions and marketing efforts on a small number of selected disciplines. Under his guidance, the press grew from $3 million to $22 million in annual revenue, and from publishing an annual list of 135 books and four journals to 220 books and more than 30 journals.

Among the highlights of Urbanowski’s time at the MIT Press were the establishment of a desktop publishing operation in the late 1980s, the creation of the first university press website, and the publication of the first interactive electronic book — “City of Bits” by William Mitchell — in 1994. He also established the MIT Press Bookstore on Main Street in Kendall Square in 1981.

In the late 1990s, Urbanowski created the Digital Projects Lab, an innovative digital-publishing group that led to today’s successful CogNet (the online community for the cognitive sciences) and ArchNet (the online resource for Islamic architecture).

Read more in the MIT News

"Not only was he a remarkable leader and mentor to many of us, but he was an extremely decent and warm human being. Frank’s legacy endures as a source of inspiration for me and others at the press and in the broader academic publishing community.”
—Amy Brand, director and publisher of the MIT Press

Browse recent publications supported by the Urbanowski Memorial Innovation Fund:

Design Justice

Sasha Costanza-Chock

March 3, 2020

Animal Beauty

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, Jonathan Howard

May 14, 2019

Are you interested in directing a major gift to an area of interest, or making a planned gift?
Contact MIT Press Director and Publisher Amy Brand, at