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Thursday, August 23, 2012

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

Posted By on Thu, Aug 23, 2012 at 11:59 AM

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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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