10 To Be Laid Off in Closing of Missouri Press

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COLUMBIA - Following The University of Missouri's announcement to close The University of Missouri Press Monday, all 10 employees at the Press are set to lose their jobs. The 10 employees were informed of the lay-offs in May, according to Jennifer Gravley of The University of Missouri Press.

"It's been a difficult couple of months," said Gravley. Gravley also said she is "surprised" and "heartbroken" at the press' closing.

In a news release by the MU News Bureau Monday, The University of Missouri says it will integrate the current press into a campus-wide model. The press is set to become an entirely digital publishing organization relying on student workers instead of full-time staff. It will be overseen by Speer Morgan, the current editor of the literary magazine, "The Missouri Review".

In a news release, Morgan said a national search for a new editor-in-chief for the press will begin immediately.

According to the news release, the 2,000 books that the University of Missouri Press publishes now will be digitized. The reformatted press will now publish around 25 hard-copy books per year.

"This new 21st century press will enable the University of Missouri to be an innovator and a nationwide leader in university publishing at a time when traditional academic publishing is being challenged to maintain its position as the main venue for scholarly book publishing," MU Chancellor Brady Deaton said in a press release.

Gravley says neither she nor any other University of Missouri Press employee was involved in discussions regarding the closing.

"The things that I have read and heard in the media have led me to believe that there's not a widespread understanding of the exact function that the press serves necessarily amongst people of power," said Gravley.

The conflict has gained national attention. The New York Times published an article on the conflict Tuesday. The issue has also spurned a flurry of Facebook groups aimed to save the press, like "Save the University of Missouri Press" and petitions on signon.org.

Gravley said she has not been given a date for the end of the press as she knows it, nor a lay-off date.

The University of Missouri Press has been in existence since 1958.