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The most comprehensive coverage of the University of Missouri Press debacle is by higher education beat reporter Janese Silvey of the Columbia Daily Tribune. Now, Janese provides at a list of dozens of authors published or under deals with UM Press – all demanding return of publishing rights unless sacked Editor-In-Chief Clair Willcox is re-hired. University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe hit the brakes on an out-of-control idea to close the UM Press to save $400,000 a year. The staff had gotten pink slips, but most still available have been re-hired or retained. The exception is the veteran editor-in-chief Willcox, who tells Janese he would consider coming back if asked. The list of disgruntled authors is impressive. There are 33 universities, colleges and institutions represented, including writers from Wake Forest, Purdue, University of North Carolina, Cornell, Miami, Louisiana State, Kent State and UT-Austin. They also hail from the smaller academic halls such as Spelman College and Gainesville State College. Other Show-Me State higher education institutions have authors demanding their rights back: Missouri State, Central Missouri, Southeast Missouri State, and the UM campuses in Kansas City and Columbia. All of the historians co-editing the distinguished and irreplaceable Dictionary of Missouri Biography series are on the list. So is Donald Spivey, Professor of History at the University of Miami, author of the UM Press-published “If You Were Only White”: The Life of Leroy “Satchel” Paige.” And, there’s Thomas Spencer, Director of Honors Student Affairs at Eastern Illinois University, whose books for the UM Press include “The St. Louis Veiled Prophet Celebration: Power on Parade, 1877-1995.” One political name on the list carrying high bipartisan regard is former House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton of Missouri, whose much-awaited inspirational personal memoir is “Achieve The Honorable: From Warm Springs To Washington.” The authors’ letter said that unless Willcox is re-hired, they want their rights returned “because the Press as we have known it and the editorial staff we have worked with are gone. Today we are writing to ask that for the sake of the University and the Press, you reinstate Clair Willcox, the editor-in-chief you released on July 26 because the press was closing. Now that the Press will remain open, there is no reason to lay him off, and in fact we believe you will need him more than ever.”


  • MUbjJournalism says:

    This whole thing has been a debacle. If this is supposed to be my introduction as a Mizzou alum to the new president, it’s a poor first impression of a supposed sharp businessman.

  • Tracy Wuster says:

    One small correction: while Clair Wilcox was the only employee let go under the old “new model” fiasco, both the managing editor and acquisitions editor have left, or are leaving, for new jobs. This leaves the press with no editorial staff currently in place. Also of note, the prestigious “Mark Twain and His Circle” series (for which my book is under Advance Contract, for the moment, at UM Press) is in the planning to move to another press.

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