MU Faculty Council requests postponement of University Press closure

Thursday, July 26, 2012 | 8:30 p.m. CDT; updated 12:41 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 28, 2012

COLUMBIA — The MU Faculty Council voted unanimously Thursday  to send a resolution to University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe to stop the closure of the University of Missouri Press.

Members of the Faculty Council expressed anger about the failure by the system administration and Wolfe to include faculty input in the decision-making process about the University Press closure. MU officials later disclosed plans for a digital press as a replacement.

Sudarshan Loyalka, nuclear engineering professor, proposed the resolution, which included six points pertaining to various aspects of the closure. The council only voted on the first point during Thursday's meeting and will act on the remaining five during its next meeting on Aug. 23.

Usually, faculty members are prohibited from voting on resolutions introduced the same day, but the council unanimously suspended the rule Thursday.

Members of the council viewed the lack of discussion as a larger issue the faculty has dealt with previously, citing the disintegration of the Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute in March without faculty input. The institute later reopened following discussions with faculty, students and alumni.

"We have a rogue administration, which has a long history of not following rules and regulations," pathology professor Eddie Adelstein said.

Adelstein commented after the meeting how the Faculty Council was trying to apply rational thought to an irrational decision. The administration's dealing with faculty has been brutal, Adelstein said. 

"If we lose the University Press, we lose the university," said Stephen Montgomery-Smith, mathematics professor. If that happens, we might as well give up and go home, he said. 

When a vote came on the resolution, it included language that said to also "stop the layoffs of the current staff." 

Johannes Schul, a biological sciences professor, motioned to remove the section involving layoffs because he did not believe it was under the Faculty Council's responsibility to control staff layoffs. The motion passed, 8-6

The council's agenda listed Speer Morgan, director of the new press, as a guest speaker, but he did not attend.

The other points in the resolution to be voted on at the next meeting read:

  • Guarantee that the citizens of Missouri and the University of Missouri continue to be served by the University of Missouri Press and that the Press continue to publish a broad range of important literary, scholarly, peer-reviewed, and Missouri-based books.
  • Guarantee that the Press continue to publish and print books as it expands its already substantial list of digital editions and explores other opportunities presented by new media.
  • Follow the industry standard and establish an independent Advisory Board of alums, scholars, and editing professionals that would raise funds and oversee the direction of the Press.
  • Hire an experienced director for the Press so that it does not have to continue, as it has for the last three years, under "temporary" leadership.
  • Guarantee that the Press continue to train student interns but not use them to replace trained professionals.

Supervising editor is Jake Kreinberg.

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