Wolfe speaks about possible new model for UM Press

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 | 6:44 p.m. CDT; updated 4:58 p.m. CDT, Thursday, June 28, 2012

*David Bradley, chairman of the UM System Board of Curators, said he would be willing to consider hearing from members of the public in forums if the issues warranted it. An earlier version of this story misstated Bradley's comment.

COLUMBIA — University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe said Wednesday a new model for the University of Missouri Press that uses the "latest and greatest technology" will be up and running "soon." 

But Wolfe, speaking at a news conference after meeting with the UM System Board of Curators, had no specifics about the model or the timeline. 

Wolfe was responding to a groundswell of support for keeping the publishing house open. On May 24, he announced that a $400,000 subsidy would stop on June 30, effectively closing the 54-year-old press. 

Speaking to the curators, Wolfe said the UM System consulted with five publishing experts to assess the long-term sustainability of the press. The final call was to phase out the old model and work on an alternative one. 

"We could not justify the press as it currently exists," Wolfe said"Since the announcement, we have been very impressed to see such support expressed for the University Press."

Wolfe said that less than 10 percent of the authors published by the press were UM System faculty

At the news conference, Wolfe said they are looking for a new model that perpetuates what is good about the press and meets contractual obligations with current authors. 

Protestors of the press closing were at the board meeting Tuesday, according to the Save the University of Missouri Press Facebook page. Their intention was to share their concerns with the curators. 

But the agenda for the two-day meeting was set prior to the board being aware that the protesters wanted to speak, Chairman David Bradley said at the Wednesday news conference. 

*Bradley said he would be willing to consider hearing from members of the public in forums if the issues warranted it. Right now, there is no place for public comment during the meetings. 

Contacted Wednesday after Bradley's remarks, protester Lois Huneycutt said she would be open to any kind of dialogue with anyone in a position to overturn the decision about the UM Press.  

"I think there are scores of people who feel the same way," Huneycutt said. 

Huneycutt, an associate professor and director of graduate studies in MU's Department of History, estimated there were about 70 protesters present Tuesday. They were not conspicuous, however, among the people attending the board meeting at Reynolds Alumni Center.

As director of graduate studies, Huneycutt collaborates with doctoral candidates of history. These candidates publish work about the history of Missouri and, therefore, want their work to be told through a university press.

"We need a vehicle to tell that story," she said.

Huneycutt also said she thinks the curators should accept comments and suggestions about a new model.

"It needs to have the input of anyone affected by the existence or nonexistence of the University of Missouri Press," she said.  

On Tuesday, the curators finalized the 2013 budget for the four-campus system, approved a new residence hall for MU and major upgrades for athletic facilities at MU, and approved a preliminary request for state funding for 2014.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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