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University of Missouri Press

I think I may be among the last to learn of this, but if not, readers of this blog will no doubt be saddened to learn that it was recently announced that the University of Missouri Press will be phased out of existence beginning next month.

University of Missouri Press is closing
By Janese Silvey

Columbia Daily Tribune
Published May 24, 2012

University of Missouri Press is closing after more than five decades of operation, UM System President Tim Wolfe announced this morning.

The press, which publishes about 30 books a year, will begin to be phased out in July, although a more specific timeline has not been determined.

Ten employees will be affected. Clair Willcox, editor in chief, declined to comment but did note that neither he nor any of the staff knew about the change before a midmorning meeting.

In a statement, Wolfe said even though the state kept funding to the university flat this year, administrators “take seriously our role to be good stewards of public funds, to use those funds to achieve our strategic priorities and re-evaluate those activities that are not central to our core mission.”

The rest of the story can be found here.

To anyone with an interest in Civil War history, this is very sad news. The list of distinguished works in the field published by Missouri–primarily from the Shades of Blue and Gray series my doctoral advisor Herman Hattaway has co-edited for the past decade–as well as in Truman, Missouri, and sports history, is too long to be recounted here, but here are some representative titles of interest to readers of this blog:

There is an effort underway to save the press, but it does not look it is making too much impression on the powers that be.

I find it rather odd that Truman State University can maintain a press but the state’s flagship institution cannot; why not consolidate them into a University Press of Missouri the way it is done in Kansas? I would not disagree with the notion that in these times a consolidation of the university press industry might be in order, but it is anything but a badge of honor to be a resident of the only state (that I know of; someone correct me if I am wrong on this?) that lacks a major university press.

I am by no means blind to the forces at work in the publishing world that contributed to this development, but it seems rather clear that if the state of Missouri can find the money to underwrite football teams at a half dozen public universities, that it could save the university press at its flagship campus. But I guess those are the priorities in higher education these days. Not shocking, but sad.

Comments (1) to “University of Missouri Press”

  1. By a twist of fate, this dismal piece of news reached me the same day I learned of Ray Bradbury’s death. In Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, books began to disappear because people wanted shorter and shorter digests (Wikipedia , anyone?) rather than scholarly tomes. Glad to see that Missouri is doing its part to fulfill Bradbury’s prophecy.