By Project MUSE

Melanie Schaffner, Director of Communication, Marketing, and Engagement at Project MUSE and friend to so many of you in our scholarly communication community passed away peacefully at her home on July 5, 2024. In her final days, she shared that she was grateful for the full life she led, both personally and in her 27 years of work and dedication to Project MUSE and Johns Hopkins University Press.  

Melanie has been with MUSE from nearly the beginning, when it was an experiment for digitizing journal content from Johns Hopkins University Press. She helped build Project MUSE from the ground up into an aggregation that is now a world-class foundation of humanities for the library and university press communitiesHer work was critical to the success of the MUSE you see today— a full-scale platform for over 400 journal publishers and over 100,000 books in the humanities and social sciences.  

Melanie worked closely with colleagues in MUSE to take the organization from one that was largely domestic to an internationally renowned institution. She worked passionately on our OA initiatives so that everyone, everywhere, can have access to the highest quality scholarship. Thanks to Melanie’s leadership, Project MUSE is now a globally recognized name that connects users to vital humanities and social sciences resources. 

Much of her work was about building relationships and community and strengthening these connections across the decades. This was a feat that took not just concerted and dedicated effort but called on her trademark empathy, caring, and kindness. These traits crossed into her personal life as she spent her leisure time committed to supporting the welfare of animals and animal rescue organizations. She savored adventure, sharing that she managed to check off much of her bucket list throughout her lifetime, which included a recent trip to Alaska where she stayed in yurt with Alaskan Iditarod sled dogs. 

We will all miss Melanie’s vast, in-depth knowledge of scholarly communication. But mostly we will miss Melanie’s generosity in her interactions with those around her, including those of you reading this announcement.  

For those of you who would like to honor Melanie’s life with a monetary contribution, she kindly requested donations to be made in her name to one of the following nonprofit organizations:  


In her formal obituary, it was highlighted that “she would not want those left behind to experience sorrow, pain, and grief, but rather take joy in the life she lived and the memories they shared with her.” So let’s take a moment to remember and honor the adventures we took with Melanie, all that we learned from her, and what we cherish most about having had her in our lives.