The University Press of Kentucky (UPK) is the scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and was organized in 1969 as successor to the University of Kentucky Press. The university had sponsored scholarly publication since 1943. In 1949 the press was established as a separate academic agency under the university president, and the following year Bruce F. Denbo, then of Louisiana State University Press was appointed as the first full-time professional director. Denbo served as director of UPK until his retirement in 1978, building a small but distinguished list of scholarly books with emphasis on American history and literary criticism.
Since its reorganization, the Press has represented a consortium that now includes all of Kentucky's state universities, five of its private colleges, and two historical societies. Each constituent institution is represented on a statewide editorial board, which determines editorial policy.