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Columbia Missourian

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Into what dark hole will the University of Missouri Press budget go?

By Sharon Kinney Hanson
June 5, 2012 | 5:53 p.m. CDT

As a taxpayer and financial contributor to MU (my graduate school alma mater), I’m completely dismayed by its administrators’ redirection of a budget that barely sustained the University of Missouri Press.

This administration also lets The Missouri Review, our literary journal, limp along on a minuscule budget dependent primarily on funds from the Missouri Arts Council. The staff of both are paid less than their value, so why do they do this work? Because they understand the role of public education and the importance of academic excellence.

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If this administration lets the press die, I cannot continue to support MU. Here’s why:  

The press was operated in the black not long ago and since 1958 it has spawned the work of thousands of scholars and academicians: indispensable thinkers, writers, teachers. In recent years, administrators cut the budget of other academic programs — for example, The State Historical Society of Missouri — which resulted in the elimination of professional staff. 

Now, with the forthcoming “revisioning,” which in truth is the demise of our academic press, this administration again will further Columbia’s unemployed numbers. But historical society, Missouri Review and University of Missouri Press employees can’t afford attorneys to protect their jobs much less negotiate salaries like some employees in the system. The press’ total budget wouldn’t pay the salary of one coach or one administrator making these decisions. Lest we forget, taxpayers funded a new stadium, a new tennis facility and a mascot mosaic — all requiring operation and maintenance budgets. Some considered an outlay of mascot funds to care for and feed and parade a live tiger here and there, but loud roaring opposing this idea led to common sense.  

A university press is a key academic component of university life. And $400,000 is a pittance sum compared to what’s shelled out on various athletic staff or programs. With the demise of the press in 2013, MU’s reputation as an academic university must be questioned and MU will establish an image as primarily a sports school.

I want to know into what dark hole will the press' $400,000 fall, and why can’t our state university support a university press?

Sharon Kinney Hanson received her master's in education from MU and is a Columbia resident. She has been a member of the Missouri Arts Council's ad hoc literature committee. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.