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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 5 Jun 2012 13:34:43 -0500
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
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Tracy Wuster <[log in to unmask]>
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Hello all,

I know that many Twain scholars have been following the sad decision to
close the University of Missouri Press.  Bruce Miller and Ned
Stuckey-French have passed on the press release below and asked Twain
scholars to join the FaceBook page and sign the petition in support of the
press and the "Mark Twain and His Circle" series.

Facebook page:


Please take a minute to express your support for the press and its work on
Mark Twain.


Tracy Wuster

Bruce Joshua Miller Ned Stuckey-French
773  275-8156 850  553-9549
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Facebook Page Attracts Hundreds; Missourians and Others Up in Arms

New University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe’s announcement last Thursday
that he was shutting down the University’s press has prompted a firestorm
of opposition.

The Press, which was founded 54 years ago, has published approximately
2,000 titles for both scholars and the general reader, everything from a
biography of St. Louis Cardinals’ great Stan Musial to the Collected Works
of Langston Hughes. The Press has also published the letters and
autobiography of favorite son Harry Truman, and now Missourians and others
have decided to “give ‘em hell.”

Authors, teachers, librarians, Missouri alums, and readers from across the
state of Missouri and the country have voiced their outrage. Within one day
a “Save the University of Missouri Press” on Facebook had attracted over
600 followers. Articles about the national reaction to the closing have
appeared already in Publishers Weekly, Inside Higher Ed, St. Louis Today,
and the Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune.

Many of the letters and posts have focused on the disparity between the
fact that the head football coach at the University of Missouri Gary Pinkel
receives an annual salary of $2.7 million while the University’s subsidy
for the Press’s staff of ten, which designs, edits and produces 30 titles a
year, is only $400,000.

Successful trial lawyer, UM alum and Missouri Press author Thomas Strong
wrote President Wolfe to say, “I cannot adequately express how offended I
am by your decision. Please remove the plaque that bears my name in a room
of the law school. I will make no further financial gifts to MU.”

The American Association of University Presses (AAUP) issued a formal
announcement: “The AAUP was shocked by the unexpected announcement by
University of Missouri system president Timothy Wolfe of the planned
closure of the University of Missouri Press. …The shortsighted decision to
close an experienced publishing center during a time of expansion in
scholarly communications rather than to creatively benefit from the
invaluable resource of a widely respected university press is one we hope
the University of Missouri will reconsider.”

The Press publishes scholarly series and editions devoted to the work of
Missouri-born authors such as Langston Hughes and Mark Twain, and scholars
of those authors have been some of the first to write to President Wolfe.
Southern Methodist University professor and Hughes scholar Darryl
Dickson-Carr wrote, “Hughes, as you know, was a native son of Missouri, one
of many stellar writers born, raised, or shaped by the state's great, rich
history. I needn't tell you of the others, including Mark Twain, who helped
put Missouri at the heart of this nation's great literary tradition. …I
urge you to reconsider because the press has already been an excellent
steward of the state's resources. It has taken the funds invested and
turned them into scholarship that documents the history of a great state.
It has enhanced the university's mission. Without it, all of us will be

National Public Radio commentator, Seattle librarian and author Nancy Pearl
wrote, “As a book lover, I am saddened by this decision - especially in
light of the huge disparity between what the relatively paltry amount that
University of Missouri Press needs to continue operations in comparison to
the huge amount of money that goes to support the University's major sports
teams. Something's screwy in our values, here.”

At the time of this release, President Wolfe had not responded to the
public outcry.