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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: University of Missouri Press should remain a priority

Friday, June 1, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:42 p.m. CDT, Monday, August 20, 2012

COLUMBIA — I'm dismayed by the shortsightedness of the decision to close the University of Missouri Press and by the values it exposes in the administration of the university.

Having read the excellent book by Ned Stuckey-French, "The American Essay in the American Century," in recent months, and being in the middle of Lisa Knopp's marvelous "What the River Carries," my respect and admiration for the University of Missouri Press has grown considerably in the past year.

If the work being published were not so outstanding, it might possibly be less upsetting. But a university that doesn't value astute thinking and literary craft and surrenders the chance to promulgate them is simply contributing — eagerly, in this case, it would seem — to the continued decline of the culture.

If the university will not stand up for literature and scholarship, what can we assume it values in regard to literacy, intellectual development and learning? I urge reconsideration of this decision and realignment of the priorities being established for the university system.

Robert Root is professor emeritus of English at Central Michigan University and honored visiting faculty in the Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing at Ashland University. He lives in Waukesha, Wis. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.


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Comments

Ellis Smith June 1, 2012 | 6:49 a.m.

University of Missouri Press can be saved. It simply needs to learn to pass, punt, tackle, dribble, slam dunk and/or improve its batting average and ability to steal bases.

It's a human condition that persons and organizations (which are groups of individuals) both promote and protect those things which are truly important to them, some things apparently being more important than others.

(Report Comment)
Corl Leach June 1, 2012 | 12:29 p.m.

Does the presence of an in-house printing facility truly determine the dedication of that entity to literature? If so, then Root's words should hold true when any of a number of highly respected institutions names are inserted: "If [Stephens College] will not stand up for literature and scholarship, what can we assume it values in regard to literacy, intellectual development and learning?"

I doubt Stephens "doesn't value astute thinking and literary craft" and is contributing "to the continued decline of the culture."

There needs to be an honest conversation about the viability of the University Press. Perhaps its merits can be shown to outweigh the financial burden it imposes? Perhaps a good marketing campaign touting its products could generate enough sales to stop the red ink? Whatever the case, the over-dramatization of the role of the Press in society does nothing to further the discussion.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith June 1, 2012 | 5:49 p.m.

In an article today in the other daily newspaper Wolfe admits he has never visited the University of Missouri Press or talked with any of its employees.

Should we be worried about more than just the University of Missouri Press? We don't need another Manuel Pacheco at this university.

(Report Comment)
Lawrence Hatter June 4, 2012 | 1:25 a.m.

To describe a University Press as an inhouse printing facility is a shockingly ignorant comment. A press disseminates knowledge across time and space; it is not a xerox machine. To compare a national research university with a local liberal arts college is equally mistaken.

To think that the profitability of knowledge ought to be measured by short-term financial calculations is to consign this nation to the dustbin of history!

(Report Comment)

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