We are proud to publish this interview with Professor Allan Rabinowitz, one of the founders of the MS in Publishing program at Pace and a creative force who has contributed greatly to the overall success of the program. Professor Rabinowitz has had a long and illustrious professional and academic career. He has worked in the corporate sector in many different capacities as a finance and accounting professional and as a Professor of Accounting and Publishing at Pace University for the past 50 years. With his wealth of knowledge and practical real world experience, he has positively impacted the lives and careers of countless students and colleagues as well as many business and publishing professionals. After teaching his last course this summer, Professor Rabinowitz will be retiring so that he can spend more time with his family, travel, and of course, read!
In this interview, Professor Rabinowitz will tell us a bit about how the MS in Publishing program came to be, share his thoughts on the value of publishing education and some thoughts on the future of the publishing industry.
Prof. Denning: Hi Allan and thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for the MS in Publishing blog. You have had a remarkable career in both the professional and academic worlds. Can you tell us a bit about your work and the path that led you to where you are today?
Prof. Rabinowitz: I graduated from Pace with a Public Accounting major, was set up with interviews by Career Planning, and became an Auditor for an international CPA firm. During my last year with them, I was in charge of the audit of the Crowell – Collier Publishing Company, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, which was later renamed Macmillan, Inc. It was a multinational corporation involved in publishing, printing, home study and classroom instruction, distribution and retailing, and manufacturing. The Company then hired me as Manager, Corporate Accounting Department and appointed me subsequently in a series of financial executive positions as Manager, Corporate Internal Audit; Controller, Macmillan Book Clubs, Inc.; Controller, Mail Marketing Division; Assistant Controller, Macmillan, Inc.; and Vice President – Finance, Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc.
My next position was Controller of Gilman Paper Company, which manufactured paper and paper bags, owned lumber mills and hundreds of thousands of acres of timberlands, and bred racehorses. I then re-entered publishing as the Vice President of Finance of Family Weekly (today USA Weekend), a weekend newspaper magazine appearing in approximately 360 papers throughout the U.S. This privately owned company was acquired by CBS as part of its Magazine Division. Next up was the position of Executive Vice President and Treasurer of The Scribner Book Companies, where the Board of Directors elected me President several months later. I was also on the Board of the Scribner Book Stores. Entrusted by the Scribner family to sell the Company, I negotiated its acquisition by Macmillan, Inc. and I became the President of its Scribner Books Division. After integrating Scribner into Macmillan, I joined Williams Real Estate Company as its CFO, before beginning to teach full-time at Pace in 1989, where I had been an Adjunct Professor since 1962.
At various times since 1979, I have done consulting for numerous entities, principally in the publishing industry, and conducted accounting and auditing education sessions for many organizations.
Prof. Denning: I know you were instrumental in the creation of the MS in Publishing program. Can you tell us a bit about how and why it was created?
Prof. Rabinowitz: In November 1979, I was asked by Dr. Edward Mortola, then the Pace President, to attend a meeting that would discuss the feasibility of a graduate program in publishing studies. Sherman Raskin, then English Department Chair, was also present at that meeting along with other interested parties. Over the ensuing years, it was decided that New York City was an ideal site for such a program, a beginning curriculum was formulated, New York State approval was received and an Advisory Board was formed in 1985. My years in the publishing industry equipped me to propose Advisory Board candidates who I held in high regard, a number of whom continue to serve.
Prof. Denning: At the time the program was started, publishing was still considered to be an “accidental profession.” Why did you think a graduate degree in publishing was necessary/important then? Why do you think it is valuable today?
Prof. Rabinowitz: We continue to believe that Pace was the innovator of graduate publishing education. In 1985, remarkably few industry employees had engaged in such formal studies. They were generally stereotyped as editorial, marketing, sales, distribution or production area personnel and too often considered unsuited for positions in other areas, let alone for moving between books and magazines and newspapers. Too few of these people understood the full sweep of the publishing processes. We strongly felt this needed to change, by having publishing personnel equipped with ample understanding, mobility and enhanced ability to advance in their careers and provide enhanced value to their employers.
Today, with change in the industry occurring more quickly than ever, we want to give our students a solid base from which to launch and then maintain successful careers. This has motivated us to consistently supply them with the cutting edge of knowledge demanded of successful industry employees.
Prof. Denning: You have taught PUB 618 – Financial Aspects of Publishing since the program started. Why is this course important and what do you try to get your students to understand about the business of publishing?
Prof. Rabinowitz: PUB 608 – Financial Aspects of Publishing was designed based on my experiences in magazine, book and newspaper publishing operations as well as my grounding in accounting and finance. It has attempted to introduce students to the basic concepts of accounting and finance as it applies to the industry and to every one of their personal lives. Among other things, they need to understand the budgeting process, how to protect their employer’s and their own financial interests, how to read financial statements pertaining to the entity employing them and to their area of responsibility. Students with entrepreneurial aspirations cannot succeed without this knowledge.
Students are required to read the Wall Street Journal over a ten week period during the semester and provide meaningful comments on articles they select relating to topics covered by the course. I have been a constant reader of newspapers for many years and follow the other media to stay on top of industry developments and changes in the economic environment that need to be communicated to students.
Guest speakers prominent in the book, magazine, and newspaper fields visited individual course sessions on at least 75 occasions over the years to impart state-of-the-art insights in their areas of expertise.
Believe it or not, Professor Rabinowitz, was the major reason that I pursued my MBA after I completed the MS in Publishing program at Pace. His experience amazed me, but it was his teaching style and humility that made me believe in myself. He was a great professor and I’m most upset that he won’t be there to teach my nine year old son.”
Thomas August Di Mascio
Director of Supply Chain Management & Logistics
Adjunct Professor, Pace, MS in Publishing
1994 graduate of the MS in Publishing Program
Prof. Denning: Teaching for 50 years means that you have taught a lot of students- do you still keep in touch with any of them?
Prof. Rabinowitz: My undergrad and grad students in the Lubin School of Business over a 50 year span and in the Publishing Program over a 27 year span must approach at least 8,000. I recognized many years ago that I could not practically reach out to them after their graduation but would instead remain in periodic contact with those who felt I could assist them with career advice and letters of recommendation.
A satisfying number of my former students have informed me of their career success in the accounting, financial, and publishing fields. One evident indicator of their success rests with the number of Publishing Program grads who have taught or now teach in the Program and were my students. Another was at the two Pace Alumni reunions I attended to mark the 50th anniversary of my own Pace graduation, where I was thanked by students from each of my decades of teaching.
I have long advised current students and grads that education is subject to depreciation as things learned are forgotten and as a profession changes. I urge them to get as much formal education as they objectively feel will be useful to them and to keep it as fresh as they can throughout their careers.
When I took Professor Rabinowitz’s class, I never dreamed that some of his lessons would stick with me ten years after taking his class. I have found it extremely helpful to have a solid understanding of Accounting principles even though my career is not in Accounting or Finance, and I thank Professor Rabinowitz for instilling that knowledge.”
Client Services Manager
2002 graduate of the MS in Publishing Program
Professor Rabinowitz was the most intimidating professor of my Pace experience — on the first day of class, he seated the students in alphabetical order by last name, and we all feared it would be a stern, dry semester. It soon became clear, however, that he had a wonderful sense of humor, and a fascinating collection of stories from his publishing experiences. I learned a great deal about the publishing industry in his course, and also found an appreciation for the Wall Street Journal! He was very influential in my own career, discouraging me from returning to California when I completed my degree because he thought New York would have better opportunities for applying my publishing skills. He was right, of course, and I am thankful to him as a major influence in the development of my career and the successes I’ve achieved. He is a true mensch.”
Linda Bathgate Publisher
Communication and Media Studies
Routledge/Taylor & Francis
Adjunct Professor, Pace, MS in Publishing
1991 Graduate of the MS in Publishing program
Prof. Denning: What are some of the major changes you have seen in the publishing industry that you find interesting, remarkable, game changing? How has the industry changed since you were working in it?
Prof. Rabinowitz: I recall reading and hearing in the early 1970’s that the book’s days were numbered and that they would soon disappear. Those predictions appear to have been premature but what has occurred during the past decade more than makes up for all the previous non-eventful years. We are now in an era of constant and significant change, with no end in sight. When I entered the field as an auditor in 1962, book publishing was still considered a “gentleman publisher’s” profession where mid-size houses thrived and independent bookstores dominated book retailing. At Scribner’s, privately owned before its sale in 1984, I relished that environment and the freedom of movement and innovation that it offered. Macmillan, Inc. in the 1960’s was constantly buying companies connected in any way to publishing and education. Other organizations began doing the same in the publishing industry, buying the smaller houses with well-known names, which became imprints in complex organizations. A similar trend took place in the magazine field but, despite these developments, many new magazines are launched by individuals and increasing numbers of books are self-published each year.
Prof. Denning: Why do you think the Advisory Board is an important element of the MS in Publishing program?
Prof. Rabinowitz: The Advisory Board has long served as a valued and trusted sounding device for an ever-changing Program. On many occasions it has pointed the way for the introduction of new courses and course content. It has functioned as a forum for informed and friendly guidance by persons acquainted with most aspects of the industry. It has been kept fresh and lively by regularly infusing new members and invited guests engaged in evolving areas, accomplished Program graduates and highly intelligent young people possessing wonderful aspirations. Board meetings remain as vibrant and state-of-the-art as ever because of these members.
Board members have also supported our endowment fund-raising efforts by their own contributions and by providing valued connections to external contributors.
They have also supplied links to qualified adjunct instructor candidates and to prospective guest speakers.
Some 45 years ago, I was a young accountant with the auditing firm of Deloitte, when I was assigned to the audit of a major publishing company. This was a very difficult client to audit, and the auditors had a lot of questions for senior financial officers about accounting matters that might have been problems. Every time we raised a question, they would say “what does the head of our internal audit dept think?” and I found out that they placed a lot of reliance on what this person thought of Deloitte’s recommendations, and accordingly what they would or would not do about making changes.
This person was Allan Rabinowitz. I had the opportunity to work with him for the rest of this audit, and many times thereafter in the years ahead. I found him to be extremely competent, very professional, with the highest integrity, and (by the way) an absolute pleasure to work with…. and, he became my friend.
When Allan asked me, over 25 years ago to join the pace MS in Publishing program’s Advisory Board, I readily agreed. I knew almost nothing about the program, and almost nothing about Pace. But, because of the respect I had gained for Allan, I knew my involvement was an appropriate one for me. I have never regretted that decision, and over those 25+ years, I have spent more time at Pace than I have with my alma mater, again because of people like Allan Rabinowitz affiliated with the Pace program”
(proud) Member of the MS in Publishing Advisory Board
Former Vice President & Treasurer
Prof. Denning: The MS in Publishing program is comprised primarily of adjunct faculty—why do you think that is important?
Prof. Rabinowitz: Adjunct faculty, like most guest speakers, are critical to student success for they are currently employed in the industry and speak with authority about existing realities. Our adjuncts have been carefully selected for dedication to their field and the desire to impart their knowledge to our students. Excellent examples are all of the program grads who have come back to teach for those reasons, for their love of the program and for what it has done for their careers and their lives – the very same reasons that brought me back to Pace to teach accounting in 1962.
Prof. Denning: How have you seen the program grow and change since it was first started?
Prof Rabinowitz: We began with 24 students in the fall of 1985, passed 100 for the first time in fall 2004 and stood at 124 in fall 2011. In 1985 none of our courses were online; today all of them are online as well as taught in NYC classrooms. Our lineup of courses has been greatly expanded, with new courses being introduced each year to reflect the current makeup of the publishing industry. Our student internship availabilities have grown greatly in number and variety and many of them have led to full-time positions. Sherman Raskin, with Prof. Lian at his side, has created a unique connection with Chinese publishing companies and brought their employees to New York. Important ties to Chinese university publishing programs have also been forged and Chinese professors have been in residence in our Program.
Fortunately, there are some things that have not changed at all, among them our shared desire to have the Program do its very best for each of our students and help them to embark on a career of their choice. Barbara Egidi remains the jewel she has always been in effectively dealing with each applicant and nurturing every accepted student as needed. Our instructors have consistently shown their devotion to the Program and provided outstanding learning opportunities in or via the publishing capital of the world.
‘Helping, fixing and serving represent three different ways of seeing life…When you serve, you see life as a whole. Fixing and helping may be the work of the ego, and service the work of the soul.’ — Rachel Naomi Remen
From his very enthusiastic response to my application to Pace University’s Publishing program many years ago, to his guidance while I took his course in accounting (and passed!), and his support as a colleague while I served as adjunct staff in the program, Professor Rabinowitz has exemplified a soul at work. I will always be grateful to him for his belief in me.
Deputy Managing Editor
1990 Graduate of the MS in Publishing Program
Prof. Denning: You have worked with Professor Raskin for over 40 years, can you talk a bit about your working relationship with him and about how the two of you worked together to build this successful program?
Prof Rabinowitz: Sherman and I, working together, have conducted over 200 information sessions over the past 27 years. We generally have a few lengthy conversations each month concerning the program and we both have an abiding love for Pace University, this Program, and for what they are capable of doing for students. It is in this spirit that we have both dedicated ourselves to this Program.
We do have differences of opinion on some matters, and heated discussions at times but these instances lead to better outcomes as we almost always come to a productive meeting of the minds. Sherman, as Program Director, has in recent years spent nearly all of his Pace time with the Program and few, if any, details escape his watchful eyes. I, as Associate Director, serve largely in a consulting capacity. We complement each other for, between us, we currently have just under 100 years of academic experience at Pace and I possess 55 years of business experience in public accounting, companies and consulting. These combinations have equipped us to function well in this very practical educational endeavor.
I have known Allan Rabinowitz for more than 30 years. He was President of Scribner Book Companies when we were planning to establish the Masters degree in Publishing. Allan assisted in establishing the first advisory board for the program back in the 80’s, a board that assisted in developing curriculum and endowment. For twenty eight years, Allan enjoyed teaching Financial Aspects of Publishing as well as assisting in the recruitment of students. He loves Pace, the program and teaching and to me will always be a dear friend and colleague. I congratulate him on his retirement and look forward to his continued service on the Advisory Board.
Professor Sherman Raskin
Director MS in Publishing
Prof. Denning: I know you are a collector of books and love everything about them. Can you tell us a bit about your collection?
Prof. Rabinowitz: My collection comprises in excess of 20,000 books, each of them selected by me as something I would wish to read and most probably retain. I have two good sized rooms filled with floor to ceiling bookcases, except for the window areas and doorway. There are bookcases in almost every other room including the kitchen, which houses my wife’s extensive cookbook collection, and in the garage. Some books came from the publishing companies for whom I worked but the great majority were purchased at sales in houses, garages, yards, libraries, religious institutions and schools, at auctions and at bargain prices. My workspaces at home are in book-filled rooms and I find special warmth and delight in being surrounded by them.
Prof. Denning: As someone who has a special appreciation of the printed book, would you share your thoughts about how technology is changing the industry and about eBooks in particular?
Prof. Rabinowitz: I have yet to read a book on an electronic device and have some doubt that I ever will have that need. I love public libraries and frequent them when I go on a lengthy vacation so I don’t have to carry many books with me. I applaud the use of technological advances in reading books, magazines, and newspapers and do believe that their use will continue to grow very quickly and create many new readers of all ages. I do not believe that printed books will disappear anytime soon for there are so many people who grew up with them and want to continue enjoying them. Then too, there are some types of books that will sell best in traditional form.
Prof. Denning: What is your hope for the future of the MS in Publishing program?
Prof. Rabinowitz: I feel that it has been pointed in the right direction for reasons I mentioned previously and will continue to do well. Our students have come from many parts of the U.S. and the world and will continue to do so. The internet has proven to be our best way of attracting new students during the past decade and should provide an effective draw in coming years. The new Pace dorm building on Fulton and Broadway in 2013 may be helpful where out-of-state prospects are concerned. Hopefully, the Program will continue to reflect the state of the industry, introduce new course content whenever warranted, and recruit talented faculty and Advisory Board members.
Prof. Denning: What is your hope for the future of Pace?
Prof. Rabinowitz: Pace has been dear to my heart since I was awarded a full tuition scholarship bearing the name of Homer St. Clair Pace in December 1953. I had an excellent undergrad experience both academically and in extracurricular activities. It was my fortune to serve as President of the Pace Alumni Association and participate in laying the cornerstone for the One Pace Plaza building. Pace has been an integral part of my life for 58+ years and has given me a wonderful life, as I hope it will do for every student.
Based upon the foregoing, I wish that Pace will continue to thrive and play a transformative role in the life of each student and a fulfilling role in the life of each faculty member and administrator.
Prof. Denning: What do you plan to do when you retire?
Prof. Rabinowitz: My wife and I look forward to spending a good part of each year traveling through both the U.S. and foreign countries – including enjoying three of the coldest New York months in Hawaii. I plan to read a great many of my books and spend more time with my children and grandchildren.
Prof. Denning: Any final thoughts or parting words for our students? Alumni? Faculty? Advisory Board?
Prof. Rabinowitz: I plan to continue to serve on the Advisory Board and play some part in shaping the Program for some time to come. As always, I wish everyone associated with the Program health, happiness, and the satisfaction derived from being a part of a highly worthwhile Program that builds people’s careers and success.
I wish to thank Sherman Raskin for his continued and highly valued friendship and a very special, longstanding working relationship; Prof. Kinney-Denning and Prof. Soares for the very fine work they do and for the pleasure I have taken from my contacts with them; all of my former students who now teach or have taught in the Program for the pride I have derived from being a part of their lives; and my fellow Advisory Board members for their collegiality and contributions to the Program.
I have had the good fortune of knowing Allan for years that I couldn’t begin to number. We have always enjoyed a collegial and mutually respectful relationship. Each of us having spent many years in the publishing industry as well as the accounting profession has likely enabled us to think alike and serve each other as mentor. He is a one-of-a-kind professional and always professional.
We served together for over twenty years as pro-bono consultants to The CPA Journal published by the New York State Society of CPAs and also enjoyed joining heads, hearts and minds in guiding the Society with its flagship publishing endeavor.
I have no doubt but that he will be missed in the corridors and classrooms at Pace. His students have gained mightily from his dedication to his every endeavor as well as his intellect, sense of humor, and caring.
I wish him a very long, healthy and happy “retirement” and hope that his fertile mind will continue being engaged in pleasurable activities.”
Member of the MS in Publishing Advisory Board
Deloitte & Touche Consulting Group
Prof. Denning: Thank you Allan for taking the time to do this interview and to share your insights and all of this great information about your career and the MS in Publishing program. In closing I would just like to extend our congratulations, thank you for all that you have done, and to extend our best wishes for you and your family in your retirement. We look forward to seeing you seeing at the fall Advisory Board meeting!