Mark Harril Saunders, director of the University of Virginia Press since 2013, died suddenly of a heart attack at his home over the weekend. He was 52.

In announcing Saunders' death, UVA Press issued a statement expressing its shock: "We at the Press are both saddened and shocked by Mark’s unexpected passing; we know these feelings will be shared by many people throughout the publishing world. His great expertise and unique and remarkable character will be profoundly missed and inspire us always."

Saunders began his publishing career in 1991, serving as east coast sales rep and then national sales manager at Columbia University Press. In 1995, he joined the marketing department of UVA Press, where he eventually became director of marketing and sales before being named director. While director, Saunders played the central role in establishing UVA Press's Rotunda electronic imprint.

Saunders was also a Henry Hoyns Fellow in UVA’s MFA program in creative writing. His novel, Ministers of Fire, received a PW star review when it was released in 2012.