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Monday, October 16, 2017

UM Press’s transition to MU leads to concerns on quality

Faculty Council discusses changes to the UM Press as it moves to MU.

MU Faculty Council member Art Jago speaks about the UM Press on Thursday at the regularly scheduled Faculty Council meeting. Nominations for a committee to advise the transition of the press will be sent out next week.

Nick Ehrhard/Senior Staff Photographer
Cait Campbell/Graphic Designer

During Faculty Council’s Executive Committee’s Aug. 6 closed-door meeting with both UM System President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor Brady Deaton, issues arose regarding the UM Press.

Currently, the new model for the Press will be one that “researches and educates students in the broad field of ‘scholarly communication,’” according to a news release from the MU News Bureau.

“Scholarly communication” includes writing books, publishing articles and lecturing, among other ways. Since MU is a research university, it is important that the Press encourages these forms of scholarly communication, according to the news release.

The discussion with Faculty Council involved the voicing of concerns about the quality of the press changing, said Mary Jo Banken, Executive Director of the MU News Bureau, in an email.

“(They also discussed) shared governance of the new model, and other related issues,” Banken said. “They discussed a transition team...that will work toward ensuing uninterrupted service for University of Missouri Press customers, authors and vendors.”

With the UM Press’s move to MU, worries about changes to the Press were brought to the attentions of Faculty Council members, faculty council chair Harry Tyrer said.

“I think that the concerns are primarily that it be done correctly and in such a way that the Press continues operating,” he said.

In order to make the Press’s move easier, work for the transition team was agreed upon in the Faculty Council meeting. The transition team is headed by Deborah Noble-Triplett, the UM System assistant vice president, and Richard Wallace, the MU chancellor emeritus, Banken said.

“The transition team’s first task will be to form an advisory group comprising representatives from all four UM campuses’ Faculty Councils, interested external representatives, authors and other interested faculty,” she said.

Options for new iterations and models of the UM Press were presented to Faculty Council, according to the MU News Bureau’s news release on the matter.

In the news release, “the MU campus leadership met with representatives of the campus Faculty Council...and others to see their input about the role of a university press and its value to the campus before putting together the current plan.”

But other issues came up with Faculty Council before the UM Press’s transition to MU was even publicly announced. At first, it was announced that the Press would close.

After Faculty Council’s last meeting on April 19, no news involving the UM Press was brought up. At the Intercampus Faculty Council meeting, no one mentioned the then-impending closure of the UM Press, Tyrer said.

“We met with senior management (there) and they could have told us then,” Tyrer said. “I found out about it when a reporter called me up and asked about it.”

A variety of “wild rumors, and not-so-wild rumors” about why the UM System was not upfront with Faculty Council have floated around campus, he said.

“It’s best to wait until the cows come home,” Tyrer said. “Wolfe has been gracious enough to say he should have done it and didn’t, so I think we should just move on.”

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