An Announcement about the JHLT

Friday, November 21, 2014

To the ACHTUS Community and the Readership of the JHLT:

I am writing to report on a decision the ACHTUS Board has taken to ensure the future viability and development of our flagship, the Journal of Hispanic / Latino Theology.

As you know, the JHLT has an exceedingly proud history. As a print journal from 1993 to 2003, the JHLT was the go-to publication for outstanding, peer-reviewed, Latin@-Catholic scholarship. However, profound changes in the economics of academic publishing prompted the JHLT to cease publication in print. In 2006, after a three-year hiatus, the journal relaunched in an online format and has since published eight more volumes of reputable, peer-reviewed content. JHLT’s archives and its bibliography pages (latinobibliography.org) are an invaluable research trove.

At the same time, it has become clear that the economic model under which the JHLT has been publishing for the last several years needs attention from the ACHTUS Board. The online JHLT has been operating at a modest loss, which will become a serious issue in the next few years if allowed to continue unchecked. The JHLT site also needs some technical updating and design work to take advantage of recent advances in online scholarly publishing and design. Both the JHLT and ACHTUS can also benefit from a more deliberate integration of their respective web apparatuses. Finally, a more intentional JHLT marketing strategy, supported by ACHTUS, could maximize the revenue possibilities of the journal’s online platform.

Moved by these challenges, I appointed a committee in August 2014 to begin a “visioning” process to consider these and related issues — in anticipation of future recruitment for editors, and so that ACHTUS could generally be more intentional in its support for the journal. This decision was guided by a desire to defend the editorial integrity and independence of the JHLT, while also considering specific ways to formalize the JHLT’s commitment to its economic and online development.

This process was just beginning when JHLT Editor Gilberto Cavazos-González, OFM, was transferred to Rome by his order and resigned his editorship, effective October 17, 2014. His departure was sudden and unexpected, and did not give the ACHTUS Board the opportunity to make plans for an editorial transition. This presented us with a serious challenge. It is clear that the Board must become more knowledgeable and engaged in the economic life of the JHLT if it is to survive in the long term. It is equally clear that the discernment and visioning process we have begun must precede — and guide — the recruitment and appointment of the next JHLT editor.

To that end, the ACHTUS Board this week voted to continue to maintain the JHLT and the latinotheology.org site, but to suspend new editorial work on the JHLT, pending the work of one or more Board committees that will undertake several tasks toward assessing the JHLT and its web platform, including:

  • Publishing a number of book reviews that had been submitted to the JHLT, edited to completion, but have not yet been published.
  • Fixing flaws in the paywall, broken links, and other technical issues.

  • Finish our review of the finances and balance sheet of the JHLT to make a judgment on how (and where) to proceed with its online format.

  • Review and price our hosting agreement with MetaVisual for latinotheology.org, and explore / price alternative hosting platforms, perhaps in one of our Catholic universities.

  • Develop a vision statement for the JHLT, and a model draft contract, that would be used as the basis for recruitment and negotiations with prospective JHLT editor candidates.

  • Recruit a new editor.

It is conceivable that much of this work could be completed by the time of next summer’s ACHTUS Colloquium. Our hope is that once a new editor is in place, the JHLT will relaunch and resume its legacy as an outstanding peer-reviewed journal.

-Jorge A. Aquino
 President, ACHTUS