Difficult economic conditions and reported conflicts with the Columbia University board of trustees have led to the dismissal of Columbia Press director William Strachan. CFO Rebecca Schrader will take over for Strachan on an interim basis, but it is unlikely she will hold the position permanently. While the board could have someone in mind, an insider said the more likely scenario is that a search committee will be convened. The press staff was surprised to learn of the move. "We knew there was some pressure, but we didn't think it would come to this," said one staffer.

Strachan took the job "to recreate what trade publishing was when I started in 1970," he told the Web site Archipelago in an interview a few years ago, also saying "I am now working, at Columbia, for an independent publisher which is owned and operated without conglomeration with any other publisher." Strachan, who joined Columbia in 1997, was a veteran trade publisher who had served as editor-in-chief of Holt before making the move to academic publishing.

New Series from Harvard

In other university press news, Harvard Business School Press has announced "a co-branded series of timely professional handbooks for senior executives" called Benchmark Books. The titles will be high-end, research-heavy volumes done with New York's nonprofit Conference Board. Business ethics and customer management are among the potential subjects.