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UM Press future still unclear after MU Faculty Council meeting

Thursday, August 23, 2012 | 8:34 p.m. CDT; updated 4:00 p.m. CDT, Thursday, September 6, 2012

CORRECTION: *An earlier version of this story misidentified Richard Wallace's title. ** An earlier version of this story misspelled Clair Willcox's name.

COLUMBIA — A visit from former MU Chancellor Richard Wallace left members of the MU Faculty Council with more questions than answers Thursday about the future of the University of Missouri Press.

Wallace, who was chancellor from 1997 to 2004*, spoke about the status of the press' closure at the council's regularly scheduled meeting in Memorial Union South. Earlier in August, he was appointed with Deborah Noble-Triplett to handle the transition to a new press.

"I don’t know where (University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe’s) heart was in the beginning," Wallace said. "Right now, I believe he shares with us two things: This university must have a strong academic press. I truly believe he believes that. He is a strong believer that this press should be on (the MU) campus."

On the council's agenda was a motion to vote on a resolution opposing the closure of the press, but confusion about whether the closure will move forward as designed led the council to table the resolution until more information is available.

"I feel very confident we will hear more soon," Wallace said. "And although it won't please everyone, we will recognize it as progress."

At the meeting, some council members expressed confusion about whether the press will continue to be operated by the UM System and how a new press would be overseen.

"We need to go back to the original point where the decision was made and start from there, not from the mess we are in now," MU management professor Art Jago said.

Wallace suggested creating an advisory board to oversee the new press. The board would be made up of faculty representatives from all four campuses, students and staff from MU and external stakeholders, such as other publishers and authors.

Invitations to nominate advisory members from MU will be sent to council members next week.

Former press editor-in-chief Clair Willcox** said Thursday the press is still operating, although employees are being phased out. Three people will leave their positions next week, he said, followed by two more in October.

"The best way to describe it is it's in a state of transition," Willcox said. "Business should be proceeding as usual, but it's impossible because the booksellers and wholesalers have no faith that the press is going to continue to supply books."

Missourian reporter Keith Reid-Cleveland contributed to this report.

Supervising editor is Zach Murdock.


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