Director of the Office of University Publications

Mark Permenter

Tell us about your work---what do you do? I am the director of the Office of University Publications at The University of Texas at Arlington. Our office provides graphic design , Web design , photography and copy writing for departments and offices on campus. My specific duties include managing a staff of ten, serving as editor of UTA Magazine and coordinating the production of the undergraduate and graduate catalogs. I also oversee five budgets. What skills are needed? Management skills, writing/editing skills , very strong organizational skills, some layout/design skills, planning skills and an understanding of budgets . What was your major? I earned a B.A. in history from Baylor University in 1984. How did you get started in your career? After graduating from college, I thought I wanted to teach. A few months as a substitute teacher changed my mind. I then decided I'd like to try my hand at sportswriting. I returned to college (U.T. Arlington) and took approximately 30 hours of journalism courses. Through one of my courses, I landed an internship at an electronic news network. This led to a full-time job there as sports editor and eventually as editor. I was able to develop my writing skills and build a writing portfolio. After about three years at the electronic news network, I was hired as a writer in U.T. Arlington's Office of Public Affairs. From there, I became assistant director of Public Affairs, interim director of Public Affairs and eventually director of University Publications. What experience do you need in this job? You must have proven experience as a writer and editor. Management experience would probably be a requirement now, although I was a one-person show when the Office of University Publications was formed. Describe your "typical" workday: My typical workday depends on the time of the year. During much of the spring, I am updating the academic catalogs. This involves close contact with representatives from each of the colleges and schools on campus to make sure their catalog sections are accurate and reflect the most recent revisions. At other times, I devote much of my day to editing UTA Magazine. This involves planning the next issue, copy editing the current issue, writing copy for the current issue, writing headlines and captions , and working with the photographers and graphic designers. I spend part of every day handling various administrative duties. What is the hardest aspect of your job? The hardest aspect of any job, I think, is managing people. Also, hiring the right person for a particular job is difficult as is retaining good employees. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? The most rewarding aspect of my job is getting positive feedback from clients. It is very satisfying when your clients are proud of their final printed product. Working on UTA Magazine is my favorite part of the job. We are able to use our creative talents to create a publication that faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the University are proud to be associated with and to display on their coffee tables. What are your suggestions for someone considering this field? -Above all else, develop a portfolio of your writing. Try to make it as varied as possible by including news stories , feature stories and personality profiles . The best way to do this is by writing for your school newspaper or by getting an internship that allows you to write. -Become a stickler for style and consistency. By paying attention to detail, you will gain the confidence of your supervisors. -Develop your interviewing skills. Oftentimes, the key to good writing depends on how the person you are interviewing responds to your questions. -Get organized. If you're not innately organized, attend a seminar or workshop that teaches organizational skills.