The Academics Rally!: Latest Chapter in the Saga of UM Press

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The Battle of the University of Missouri Press rages on. On Tuesday, former press staffers and authors gathered for a rally in on the Mizzou campus in Columbia.

The rally itself, judging from pictures in the Columbia Tribune, was less colorful than Occupy and less populated than the March on Washington (any of the Marches on Washington). About 100 people gathered in Jesse Wrench Auditorium and listened to speeches by, among others, former UM Press editor-in-chief Clair Willcox and UM Press author William Least Heat-Moon, denouncing the recent decision by the university to turn care of the press over to English professor Speer Morgan and a team of student interns.

Heat-Moon reiterated his pledge last month to donate $100,000 to keep the press running according to its old model, equivalent to the current sum in the university budget allotted to the new-model press.

"The new model is bogus," he declared. "It is totally, completely, absolutely and fully unnecessary, and we must not allow this change to happen."

Willcox, meanwhile, defended his press against the charges that it was old-fashioned and out-of-touch with technology -- a state of affairs Morgan promises the new press will remedy with e-books and other digital formats, as yet to be determined.

"[We were] offering online databases long before the iPad was a gleam in someone's eye," he told the assemblage.

The rally concluded with a dozen authors and editors reading selections from UM Press books, including Bright Light Bright City: Images of Las Vegas in Popular Culture by Larry Gragg, which had been under contract to be published by UM Press, but is now on the list at University of Kansas Press.

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As always, thanks for covering this important and confusing story. I do have a correction. William Least Heat-Moon has pledged "a five-figure initial donation for the establishment of an endowment to continue the press in its present form if the proposal for closure is rescinded," not $100,000. Perhaps more to the point is that the University has ignored his offer and in fact, has apparently transferred the UMP "Forever Fund," an endowment fund of about $100,000, to the new bogus press despite the fact that people who donated to that fund do not want their money going to the new bogus press and have asked that it be returned (just as about 50 authors have now asked for their books back). The University has not answered any of these requests.If you would like to follow up on these developments, Aimee, I'd be happy to give you some contact information. Just drop me an email at nstuckey-french@fsu.eduHere's a link to Heat-Moon's editorial in which he made the "five-figure" offer:


I see that my email address ran into the next sentence for some reason. To be


Did it again from the other end, but you get the picture.


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