My father grew up on a small farm in northwest Missouri. After serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II, he was able to use the GI Bill to complete his bachelor’s degree at MU, 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’ many books on Missouri writers, culture, landscape, and heritage are to his home state.
My father 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 to the 10 professional staff members who were given their notice.
Ned Stuckey-French is book review editor of Fourth Genre and director of the program in publishing and editing, department of English, at Florida Sate University.