, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 20, 2013

UMass' first 150 years gets its due from local company

NEWBURYPORT – A local book-publishing team with experience with both education and regional institutions recently completed a handsome retrospective that should have a captive audience in this area: a history of the University of Massachusetts.

The book is “UMASS RISING: The University of Massachusetts Amherst at 150,” (University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, 2013, $29.95.)

The producers are Peter Blaiwas and Brian Hotchkiss, who make up the firm of Vern Associates. Residents of Newburyport, they recently moved their small firm to Amesbury.

“We’re pleased with the way the book came out,” said Hotchkiss. “The process went smoothly, and we had good material to work with.

“The university has a great archive, and we were able to choose from a wide variety of images to put a history together.”

Blaiwas and Hotchkiss didn’t actually write the book. Katharine Greider, a New York free-lancer, had that task.

But in this line of work, the duo did the heavy lifting by creating a winning proposal and putting the pieces together that resulted in a rough draft of the book.

They melded maps, photos, time lines, illustrations and artistic renderings with a historical narrative to produce a handsome 168-page product appropriate for the most sophisticated coffee table.

University officials reviewed every page for accuracy and style.

The story starts at the beginning: “Just one year after President Lincoln signed the Land-Grant Colleges Act into law, Massachusetts Agricultural College embarked on his mission to offer instruction to the state’s citizens in the ‘agricultural, mechanical and military arts.”

A preface continues, “Its faculty of four and student body of 56 is a far cry from (today’s) count as UMass Amherst celebrates its sesquiscenntenial: faculty of almost 1,200 and total student population of just under 28,000.”

In this team effort, Blaiwas provides the design and production, and Hotchkiss contributes the title development and editorial work.

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