Saving University of Missouri Press
June 25, 2012 § 1 Comment
A dispatch from Brevity’s managing editor, Sarah Einstein:
While we here at the Brevity offices spend our summer lounging by the rooftop corporate pool, drinking pawpaw daiquiris, and reading trash novels, Ned Stuckey-French—longtime friend of Brevity and director of the publishing and editing program at Florida State University—has been fighting the good fight. Since the May 24 announcement by Tim Wolfe, the new president of the University of Missouri, that he would be closing the University’s press, Ned has spearheaded a national campaign to raise awareness of the issue and convince President Wolfe to reconsider his decision.
Stuckey-French’s own book, The American Essay in the American Century, was published by the press last year. In the 54 years since the press was founded, it has published almost 2,000 books, including such important series as the Collected Works of Langston Hughes, The Complete Sermons of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Southern Women. In addition, the press serves its local community through series such as the Missouri Heritage Readers and the Missouri Biography Series.
President Wolfe has stated that one of his reasons for closing the press so that its $400,000 a year subsidy can be spent to further President Wolfe’s strategic priorities, which includes “building a stronger communication plan to convey the system’s value to Missouri residents and legislators.” Even in our daiquiri-induced haze, we can see that what President Wolfe seems to essentially be doing here is cutting the actual value of the University to Missouri residents and the larger academic community in order to spend the money on marketing and lobbying to increase the perceived value of the system. Isn’t it great when business leaders bring business values to academia?
The national media has picked up on the outrage over the closing of the press. You can find insightful articles at Publisher’s Weekly, Inside Higher Ed, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Columbia Missourian, and a particularly trenchant piece at the Columbia Tribune. But, if you only have time to read one, make it Katha Pollit’s piece at The Nation. Then, when you—like us—are moved to get up from your poolside lounge chair and make your voice heard, head over to the “Save the University of Missouri Press” Facebook page and/or sign the petition to keep the press alive.
Ned is doing yeoman’s work, but he can’t do it alone.