Charles R. Ellis, President and CEO of Wiley from June 1990 until May 1998, died in Paris on May 4, 2008, after a battle with cancer.
Charles led the company from the difficult days of the late 1980s into the sustained period of growth and profitability that continues into the present. On his watch, Wiley executed the acquisition of VCH Publishing Group and Alan R. Liss, raising its stature as an STM publisher considerably; was listed on the NYSE; and launched its first online ventures. In the year of Charles’s retirement, the Financial Times ranked Wiley as the world’s 27th most respected company.
Beyond his role at Wiley, Charles was an insightful and indefatigable advocate for the publishing community worldwide. With his considerable diplomatic skills and a cosmopolitan perspective enhanced by his early European experiences with Pergamon Press and Elsevier, Charles was notably effective as Vice President of the International Publishers Association (IPA) and Chairman of the Association of American Publishers (AAP), which in 1998 presented him with its highest honor, the Curtis Benjamin Award for Creative Publishing. He was a staunch defender of copyright, seeing it as essential to the encouragement and rewarding of creativity, and he played an important role in developing the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) system, which facilitates the tracking of content use and the enforcement of copyright laws online.
A graduate of Princeton University, Charles was initially attracted to a life in the academic world, and many of his lifelong beliefs were informed by his work as secretary to Bertrand Russell during the establishment of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. In publishing, he found an ideal way to honor his intellectual and ethical values while meeting the practical needs of raising a family. Those with the good fortune to have worked with this decent, charming, and thoughtful man will not forget him.
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