The announcement by new University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe that MU Press will be closed at the end of June is not in the best interests of the university and the state. That cut is ill-advised and the decision should be reconsidered.
The UM System no longer will provide its annual $400,000 subsidy to the publishing house. It has been operating at a deficit of $50,000 to $100,000, which has been an added cost to the System. However, the value of this publishing house is well worth the money.
Money saved will be used to further Wolfe’s priorities for the four-campus System, his spokesperson said. Ten employees will lose their jobs.
The press has published more than 2,000 books since it was established in 1958. It averages about 30 titles per year in various subjects, many of which focus on the state of Missouri, the Columbia Missourian reported. Many universities have a similar publishing house since they are a vehicle for publishing the works of university faculty members.
Ned Stuckey-French, an English professor at Florida State University, who published his first book at the University of Missouri Press, said the operation publishes books that provide a great service to Missourians. The Columbia Missourian quoted him as saying, “It has a focus on the state yet it represents Missouri nationally and internationally.” He added: “Wolfe made a short-sighted decision and he’s going to damage the brand of the university.”
We agree. The board of curators should reverse the decision by Wolfe. The publishing house is too valuable to be tossed aside in an attempt to use the funds elsewhere for unspecified purposes. The University of Missouri Press is part of the institution’s academic culture.