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Friday, May 25, 2012

University of Missouri Press to close

While Friday is usually reserved for my Civil War photo series, I just received some bad news I must share. The University of Missouri Press will be shut down, according to an article by the Columbia Tribune.

The press was founded in 1958 and in more than half a century has published hundreds of books on Missouri-related subjects.

UM System President Tim Wolfe announced yesterday that the press will begin to be phased out beginning in July. The press has been running at a $400,000 annual deficit despite recent staff cuts.

While that sounds like a lot, academic presses aren't designed to be money earners. They exist to publish books that aren't financially viable yet are important for the dissemination of knowledge, like the Collected Works of Langston Hughes and fiction by regional authors.

The University of Missouri Press also has an active Civil War line that I've used extensively in my own research. One recent book is Mark Lause's study of the 1864 Confederate invasion, the same campaign that provides the backdrop to my Civil War novel. Lause's book only covered the first half of the campaign and I had heard there was another volume in the works. I hope he can find another publisher.

Four hundred grand. Missouri can't spare that much to keep from being the first state without an academic press? None of the local millionaires with their giant plantation-style homes would cough up the money? The Walton family, owners of Walmart, live just a short drive away. Why didn't they write a check?

Because they don't care.

This is a bad day for Missouri writers and readers.

7 comments:

  1. It's not just a sad day for Missouri, it's a sad day for academia. Seems to be more proof that deficits at the state level are getting worse a d worse, while, as you say, the people with fat bank accounts who rail against taxes let it happen. Very disturbing.

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  2. Replies
    1. They get hit up for money on a regular basis, but don't decide where the funds go. I suppose a rich alum could make a specific donation, but that hasn't happened.

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  3. Hi Sean .. I sure hope something works out - there's so many of these cuts being made - yet the weathly get wealthier .. one would hope they'd get altruisic too ..

    For their people and for their State and history ..

    With thoughts - Hilary

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  4. I find that very sad and depressing.

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  5. The proceeds of one University of Missouri football game could pay for this press for several years. Or readjustment of some of the school's salaries and trimming of waste - and every bureaucracy has waste that can be trimmed.

    Typical with so many universities their priorities are often very skewed.

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