University of Missouri Press to close in 2013 fiscal year

Thursday, May 24, 2012 | 8:35 p.m. CDT; updated 9:55 p.m. CST, Friday, February 22, 2013

COLUMBIA — After publishing more than 2,000 books in the past 54 years, the University of Missouri Press will soon be closing.

UM System President Tim Wolfe said in a statement Thursday morning that the publishing house will be phased out beginning in the 2013 fiscal year because of its growing deficit.

The UM system provides an annual subsidy of $400,000; this subsidy will end June 30. No timeline has been established for the phasing-out process, Jennifer Hollingshead, director of marketing and public relations for the UM system, said.

"For the last decade or so, we've worked really hard to develop a more viable model for the press," said Steve Graham, senior associate vice president for academic affairs. University Press has made several attempts to overcome the deficit for the past decade, including fundraising and cutting jobs.

The operation employs 10 individuals, who were notified of the closing Thursday morning. These employees will be provided with transition assistance and applicable benefits, according to the news release.

The publishing house prints approximately 30 works per year, but less than 10 percent of those come from UM faculty members, Hollingshead said. These works will now be printed at other similar presses around the country.

Hollingshead said closing the press will allow the UM system to better align resources with university priorities. The six priorities Wolfe laid out in April are "focused strategic planning; attracting and retaining the best people; innovative instruction; operational excellence; expanded research and economic development; and effective communication of our value and importance," the release said.

MU is exploring new models for scholarly communication as technological changes have turned media around, MU spokesman Christian Basi said.

Technology "is forcing changes in scholarly communication as well," Basi said.

Supervising editor is John Schneller

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Delcia Crockett May 25, 2012 | 2:41 a.m.

@"The publishing house prints approximately 30 works per year, but less than 10 percent of those come from UM faculty members, Hollingshead said. These works will now be printed at other similar presses around the country."

In a lot of people's thoughts, the MU professors should have found outside publishers anyway.

The ones who did were more acceptable to those who had to purchase, than those who published through the University who employed them.

There are really some great published works by some of the professors, works forever held in the private libraries of those who paid the big price for the books to read in the required reading of the very expensive courses taken for degree requirement.

These works cover all the fields that professors taught, and among those most esteemed are the works of Dr. Clenora Hudson-Weems a foremost national/international authority on Africana Womanism and the Civil Rights movement in this country, with special emphasis on Emment Till.

To have been in one of her classes was the chance of a lifetime!

(Report Comment)
Ned Stuckey-French May 26, 2012 | 8:18 a.m.

My father grew up on a small farm in northwest Missouri. After serving in the Army Air Corps during WWII, he was able to use the GI Bill to complete his bachelor’s degree at the University of Missouri, stay on to get a master’s degree, and eventually become a professor of Agricultural Economics.

I wish he had been alive last year when the University of Missouri Press published my first book, The American Essay in the American Century. He would have been proud.

Today, however, he would be outraged to hear his alma mater is shutting down its press. He published with university presses and knew how essential their work is to scholars, teachers and students. He also knew how important the Press’s many books on Missouri writers, culture, landscape, and heritage are to his home state.

Dad was a lifelong Mizzou football fan, but I know he would question the priorities of a university system that shuts down its press to save (according to the University’s press release) a $400,000 annual subsidy, while paying its head football coach $2.7 million each year.

The University says it plans to institute a “new business model” of “scholarly communication” in which “[m]uch editorial work would be done by students.” I direct a publishing and editing program at Florida State University and know how important publishing internships are to our students, but I believe a model based on unpaid student interns is an insult the ten professional staff members who yesterday were given their notice.

(Report Comment)

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