At a Faculty Council meeting Thursday, former MU Chancellor Richard Wallace spoke with council members about the future of the University of Missouri Press as it moves to MU.
On Aug. 6, the MU Faculty Council executive committee met with MU Chancellor Brady Deaton and UM System President Tim Wolfe to address the current state of the press. Among topics discussed was the appointment of an advisory committee for the press as it transitions this year. Wallace and UM System Assistant Vice President Deborah Noble-Triplett were designated to lead the transition.
“I hoped to have invitations (to nominate members for the committee) in your hand,” Wallace said at the Faculty Council meeting. “But it’s taking more time to get things done.”
The invitations, along with more information on the current state of the press, will be made available next week, Wallace said.
The committee will be made up of Faculty Council representatives from all four UM campuses, he also said.
“We need the help of a committee and the help of this faculty,” Wallace said.
The advice gleaned from the committee will then go on to Deaton, Wolfe and Noble-Triplett. In addition, Wallace said they will act upon their advice.
“Far more than that (group) will be listening,” Wallace said.
The press was formally a part of the UM System and was not located on any of the four campuses. The current plan for the new, “reimagined” press is for it to be integrated into MU with a campus-wide model, according to a UM press release.
Wolfe had originally decided to close the press in May. At the Faculty Council meeting, Wallace was asked if he thought Wolfe had a change of heart in regard to the press.
“Right now I can only say two things: this university must have a strong academic press, and the press would be best on this campus,” Wallace said.
Faculty Council chairman Harry Tyrer said he was told at least twice at the meeting on Aug. 6 that the press is still currently operating.
But a note on the UM Press website said the press is being phased out of its current operations.
Despite this, Noble-Triplett said the UM System will keep the UM Press in place until the move occurs.
Clair Willcox, former editor-in-chief of the press, was also present at the Faculty Council meeting Thursday. Willcox, a longtime press staff member, said he was the first of the press staff to be laid off.
“Next week, three more will be eliminated,” Willcox said. “It will be down to four (press staff members) by the end of October.”
Faculty Council member Stephen Montgomery-Smith said he was concerned with how unfairly the UM Press employees have been treated, and he implored people to consider rehiring the staff.
Wallace said not all of the employees were fired.
Wallace also said he was confident there would be more information available soon, but it “won’t please everyone.”
“I am not in the position of defending or explaining,” he said. “I’m here to help us move forward.”
Following the meeting, Willcox said he was worried about the future of the press.
“It’s a phony press and a bogus press and isn’t going to stay afloat,” he said.