Stanford University Press—And All It Stands For—Is In Peril.

In April 2019, Stanford Provost Persis Drell—citing "budgetary" reasons, and consulting neither the Faculty Senate nor anyone working at SUP—announced her decision to cut the $1.7 million subsidy to Stanford University Press. This was met with swift and tremendous blowback, from thousands of researchers, scholars, faculty, students, publishers, and readers, both from within and beyond the Stanford community. This website chronicles the ongoing situation, with a timeline (below), collection of news coverage, letters, petitions, responses from the community, as well as tools to help save SUP—and all it stands for.

Listen to KQED Forum : NPR with Michael Krasny
— "Future Uncertain for Stanford University Press"


Jump to
Announcements & Backlash (2019.4.26)
Update: A Reprieve (2019.4.30)
SUP @ Faculty Senate (2019.6.13)
Provostial Committee Report (2019.10.31)
Senate Ad Hoc Committee Memo (2019.11.21)

  • April 26th, 2019
    Proposed Cut of Stanford U. Press’s Subsidy Sparks Outrage

    The Chronicle of Higher Education | by Alexander C. Kafka — (Web | PDF)
    "'This is a reprehensible moment for one of the richest universities in the world and a diminution of intellectual inquiry. It really boggles the mind,' said Woody Powell, a Stanford sociology professor..."

    "'If we follow the logic of the market and wish to use a financial metric,' [Prof. David Palumbo-Liu] wrote, 'the academy is gone. Presses will publish only profitable books, graduate students will write only profitable dissertations, and tenure will be awarded based on scholarship that is profitable. Reforming a university press under the mandate that it be financially solvent and, by extension, awarding it value based on profit is a direct attack on academic freedom, free inquiry, free speech.'"

    April 26th, 2019
    Faculty Senate Discusses Consequences of Tight Budget, Graduate Student Affordability

    The Stanford Daily | by Paxton Scott — (Web | PDF)
    "'At stake is our intellectual identity,' said [Professor David] Palumbo-Liu. 'University presses perform both an institutional and public good. They are not judged by an economic calculus, but by an intellectual value, and the value to the intellectual mind and the reputation of a University.'"

  • April 26-28th, 2019
    Over the following 72 hours, a torrent of reactions against the Provost's decision, as well as ardent support for SUP, flooded in. It took the form of signed letters (from faculty, departments, schools) to the administration, open petitions (signed by thousands), and a veritable social media storm. Below is a collection of responses.

    Letters from Stanford departments and faculty
    Stanford faculty in Classics, DLCL, English, Music, Religious Studies, and American Studies (PDF)
    Stanford Law School (PDF)
    Stanford Committee on Libraries (C-LIB) (PDF)
    SUP Faculty Editorial Board (PDF)
    Stanford Graduate School of Education (PDF)
    Stanford History Department (PDF)
    Stanford Anthropology Department (PDF)
    Stanford Sociology Department (PDF)
    Stanford Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS) (PDF)
    Stanford Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures (PDF)
    Walter Powell, Professor of Education, Co-Director of Stanford Center on Philanthrophy and Civil Society (PDF)
    Stanford Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS) (PDF)

    Petition #1
    For Stanford-Affiliates — (Google Form | PDF)
    "A University Press is a Vital Part of Stanford's Identity as a University. It is Not Meant to Be a Profit-Making Entity."

    Petition #2
    For Wider Community — (Google Form | PDF)
    "While of course a university needs enough money to continue functioning, no single unit need be 'self-sustaining,' much less profitable, when viewed in isolation. We note that, according to Stanford Daily, the 'net annual cost [of the athletic department at Stanford] is ... around $67 million.' The Stanford Athletic Department thus appears not to be 'self-sustaining.' Why have you chosen to single out the University Press for this application of supposed 'business models' when other units on campus similarly do not turn a profit? The point of a University Press, or any academic department, is not profit."

    Petition #3
    Letter from Editors and Authors of SUP — (Google Form | PDF)
    "Stanford University Press has the kind of impact on society that is fundamental to the mission of our universities. Withdrawing support from the Press will constrain public debate and constrict venues for the production of knowledge. As concerned scholars, authors and editors who hold Stanford University Press in high esteem and great regard, we urge you to step back from this dangerous and misinformed decision."

    "I love you, @Stanford University—but I'd literally be ashamed of being faculty at an institution that, for budgetary reasons, hastens to dismantle its jewel of a university press. Please don't do this." (tweet thread | tweet comix)
    @gewang (Associate Professor of Music at Stanford, SUP author of Artful Design)

    "I am a proud member of the editorial board of @stanfordpress. I am baffled, outraged and ashamed by the university's attempts to impose damaging, quite possibly fatal, cuts on the press." (tweet)
    @adriandaub (Professor of Comparative Literature and German Studies at Stanford)

    "This is unimaginable and would be so self-defeating to the university and its reputation." (tweet)
    @SatoMoughalian (NY flutist, artistic director, immigrant, naturalized American, SUP author of Feast of Ashes)

    "University presses aren’t just a budget line. They are an essential part of knowledge production and serve scholarly, local, regional, and global communities. Outrage is the only acceptable reaction to anything that jeopardizes @stanfordpress. #ReadUP #IStandWithSUP #SupportSUP" (tweet)
    @dawnd (Senior Acquisitions Editor at U. of Illinois Press)

    "In all seriousness, what we're seeing now with Stanford University and Stanford University Press is a watershed moment in academic publishing and the ability to research and publish without the pressure of profitability and the corporate nonsense. #SupportSUP" (tweet)
    @LiorSternfeld (Assistant Professor of History and Jewish Studies at Penn State University, SUP author of Between Iran and Zion)

    "Support academic freedom, support university presses. They are our version of a free press. Don’t bind them to the market." (tweet #1 | tweet #2 | tweet #3 | more)
    @palumboliu (Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor of Comparative Literature at Stanford; SUP author of Asian/American and Poetics of Appropriation)

    "Stanford’s proposed cuts to its world-class @stanfordpress would be catastrophic. I can’t image a university of Stanford’s stature with an underfunded university press." (tweet)
    @gmbritton (Editorial Director of the Johns Hopkins University Press)
  • April 29th, 2019
    Stanford Community Outraged at SU Press Defunding, Over 1,000 Sign Petitions

    The Stanford Daily | by Elise Miller — (Web | PDF)
    "University presses have 'long been the defenders of academic integrity,' noted author Elena Danielson, Archivist Emerita and retired Associate Director of the Hoover Institution. [...] Danielson added that one of David Starr Jordan’s requirements when he accepted the inaugural position of Stanford president was to have a university press. 'When you walk past Wallenberg Hall, look up,” she added. “There are four figures perched on the front facade of the Quad facing the Oval. One of the statues is Johannes Gutenberg. He was placed there to remind us of the importance of printing books.'"

    April 29th, 2019
    Stanford Moves to Stop Supporting Its University Press

    Inside Higher Ed | by Scott Jaschik — (Web | PDF)
    "[Provost] Drell told a group of faculty leaders recently that she considered the press 'second rate' and that many of its series could be pruned, according to some present at the meeting. The comments angered many professors who consider the press to be a point of pride."

    "'At first glance the proposition that a university of Stanford’s stature would voluntarily inflict damage upon an asset like the Stanford University Press seems shockingly improbable. The press is a world-class scholarly publisher with a 125-plus-year history -- a global ambassador of the university’s brand,'' said Peter Berkery, executive director of the Association of University Presses, via email... 'It appears the Stanford administration is proceeding from the misperception that university presses are self-funding -- which, with only a handful of highly circumstantial exceptions, is demonstrably not the case.'"

    April 29th, 2019
    ASA: Letter Regarding Stanford University Press

    American Sociological Association (ASA) — (PDF)
    "Stanford University Press is home to a long and distinguished sociology list, and the decline or demise of the press would significantly disrupt the dissemination of important sociological knowledge."

  • April 30th, 2019
    AUPresses: Letter to President Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Drell

    The Association of University Presses (AUPresses) — (PDF)
    "Eliminating all institutional funding precipitously will never right-size a publishing operation, but destroy it. Successful press reconfigurations are planned, implemented, and assessed over years, matching the demands of the university press mission."

    April 30th, 2019
    Op-Ed: Save Stanford’s World-class Press

    The Stanford Daily | by Michael Rothberg — (Web | PDF)
    "...this cut could lead to the demise of one of the nation’s premier outlets for academic scholarship. It is difficult for me to understand how one of the world’s richest educational institutions could be so shortsighted as to risk such a dire outcome, even in a budget year that you have described as 'tight.' I am writing in the hope that you can still be convinced to reverse this misguided decision and save the reputation of your university."

    April 30th, 2019
    Op-Ed: Shame on Stanford

    The Chronicle of Higher Education | by Cathy Davidson — (Web | PDF | HASTAC original post from 4/28/2019)
    "Technology by technologists for technologists, with no regard for the human and social implications, is what has brought the world to a fraught and morally vexed place. Ironically, among the many fields Stanford University Press publishes are legal studies and security studies. Given the state of our world and the role of monopolistic, global, invasive, and irresponsible surveillance and communications technologies in that world, Stanford’s decision is not just symbolic; it is irresponsible and even dystopian."

  • April 30th, 2019
    UPDATE: In response to overwhelming support for SUP, Stanford Provost Persis Drell announces a one-year reprieve for SUP and establishes committee to "right-size" Stanford University Press. Her statement maintains that SUP needs to be "financially sustainable".
    Stanford Provost Persis Drell's Statement — (Text)
    "[...] While I expected that this decision would be a difficult one for some of you to hear, I did not anticipate it would touch such a deep nerve in the community of our humanities and social sciences colleagues. [...] I would especially like to thank those who have explained how this has been interpreted by some as “a marginalization of the humanities at Stanford,” which is deeply regrettable and certainly not what was intended. My goal was, and continues to be, to find a financial model for the Press that is sustainable..."

    April 30th, 2019
    Facing Blowback, Stanford Partly Reverses Course and Pledges Press Subsidy for One More Year

    The Chronicle of Higher Education | by Alexander C. Kafka — (Web | PDF)
    "News last week of the discontinuation of the subsidy sparked vociferous protest, including open letters and petitions signed by more than a thousand within and outside the Stanford community. Besides the money, what angered and puzzled faculty members and the press’s editorial staff and advisers is that they weren’t consulted. The move was announced in a meeting with department chairs and only later publicly acknowledged in a Faculty Senate meeting."

    "Critics also said they were mystified as to why Stanford would torpedo what outside observers call a gem in humanities and social-sciences publishing. The press, founded in 1892, has a staff of 35, spends roughly $6.5 million yearly, and earns about $5 million from, among other things, the publication of 130 to 135 new books a year in 14 disciplines. The subsidy has made up the difference."

    The community responded immediately, ackowledging the one-year as a short-term reprieve while challenging the language of "sustainability" and questioning the broader priorities of the Stanford administration for the university's shared future.

    "The language of "sustainability" remains prevalent (and hugely problematic; see thread). Make no mistake: SUP is still on the chopping block." (tweet thread)

    April 30th, 2019
    On Value by Samuel Cohen — (Web | PDF)
    "...the administrators who run our universities need to be shown that they should see university presses as Ptolemy saw the library in Alexandria: as things of value whose ROI has to be measured differently."

  • May 1st, 2019
    Provost Compromise a ‘Step in the Right Direction’ on SU Press Defunding, But Not Enough, Say Faculty

    The Stanford Daily | by Elise Miller — (Web | PDF)
    "'Stanford, as a single entity, ultimately needs to be sustainable … but it must be considered differently at [different] levels and granularities within a university … What gets funded (or not) reflects an institution’s actual values. [T]he fundamental question here,' [Prof. Ge] Wang continued, 'is not the budget, but rather the extent to which the Press aligns with Stanford’s core values.'"

    "'She says it ‘touched a nerve,’ but it did more than that,” [Prof. Zephyr Frank] said, referring to Drell. “People were to be laid off. Whole areas of publishing by the Press laid to waste. [...] This was not a reasonable plan from the start.'"

    May 1st, 2019
    Stanford backs down—for a year—on ending support for university press

    Inside Higher Ed | by Scott Jaschik — (Web | PDF)
    "Berkery added, 'The reverberating outcry from communities of scholars, alumni and communities often comes as a surprise to universities making decisions similar to what is being contemplated by Stanford. Internally, unilateral administrative decisions affecting university presses raise questions about university governance, including protest from faculty editorial boards already tasked with press engagement and oversight. Significantly, unexpected announcements which call into question a press’s future viability can immediately harm ongoing acquisitions efforts, and may give rise to potential breach of contract claims for its new and forthcoming books.'"

    May 1st, 2019
    Stanford University Press Gets Funding Reprieve After Protests

    Times Higher Education | by Paul Basken — (Web | PDF)
    "Hundreds of professors had signed petition opposing scrapping of annual subsidy from parent institution."

  • May 2nd, 2019
    As of this point, a university committee has been formed by Provost Drell to "right-size" the Press—with the continued mandate of "financial sustainability". Meanwhile a number of deeper analyses and sharply written statements have come out, starting with an open letter signed by Stanford Ph.D. students in the Schools of Humanities and Sciences (the largest school at Stanford), Law, and Education.

    May 2nd, 2019
    Op-Ed: Graduate Students on SUP's Future

    The Stanford Daily | by Doctoral Students from Stanford Schools of H&S, Education, and Law — (Web | PDF)
    "...we also learned that we were used as justification for the budget cuts to the university press in exchange for graduate fellowships. Independently of the fact that the SUP modest base subsidy of $1.5 million would only cover a few fellowships and that there are hundreds of us, we did not appreciate being pitted against the SUP. Choosing between graduate funding and the SUP is not a choice at all."

    May 2nd, 2019
    Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

    Inside Higher Ed | by Barbara Fister — (Web | PDF)
    "There’s a cascade of issues, here. Thanks to austerity, public higher ed has to pay for itself. Libraries can’t afford books, so presses lose a market and scholars lose a chance to share their research widely. Individual faculty purchases can’t make up for lost sales because they’re paid piecework and aren’t sure where they’ll be living next semester. What’s happening at Stanford seems ridiculous, but destroying a long-term national commitment to higher education is the real absurdity."

  • May 6th, 2019
    One of World’s Wealthiest Educational Institutions May Close Its Renowned Press

    The Nation | by Michael Rothberg — (Web | PDF)
    "The greatest source of concern, however, is the signal that Drell’s decision broadcast regarding the value of research in the humanities and social sciences on campus. (Drell is a physicist.) Scholarly publications sometimes turn a profit, but unlike trade publications, profit is not their primary reason for being. They are contributions to knowledge that illuminate matters of public concern. They cannot—and should not—compete according to the profit-driven dictates of the market."

  • May 11th, 2019
    University Presses Shouldn’t Have to Make a Profit

    The Atlantic | by Ilya Somin — (Web | PDF)
    "The controversy reflects broader concerns about the future of academic presses. If one of the nation’s wealthiest and most prestigious universities is apparently willing to gut its highly respected press, that does not bode well for other academic publishers. And if academic publishing goes into decline, that in turn could impede the production and distribution of new knowledge—a prospect that should concern even the many people who do not read, much less write, academic books."

  • May 15th, 2019
    Failure to Support Presses Is a Betrayal of the Academic Mission

    Times Higher Education | by David Palumbo-Liu — (Web | PDF)
    "If university presses go, you can eliminate the word 'ideas' from 'marketplace of ideas', at the same time as you erase the word 'university' from 'corporate university'. The loss will be felt by everyone – just at a time when we need free, well-funded university presses more than ever."

  • Meanwhile, letters continue to come in, the petitions have collected over 6000 signatures, as Stanford University Press's future hangs in the balance.

    Selected Letters in Support of SUP
    April 29th, 2019 — American Sociology Association (PDF)
    April 30th, 2019 — Association of University Presses (PDF)
    May 1st, 2019 — Modern Language Association (PDF)
    May 3rd, 2019 — Board of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (PDF)
    May 5th, 2019 — Association for Political and Legal Anthropology (PDF)
    May 6th, 2019 — Homi K. Bhabha, Director, Mihindra Humanities Center at Harvard (PDF)
    May 6th, 2019 — John F. Padgett, University of Chicago (PDF)
    May 8th, 2019 — American Historical Association (PDF)
    May 13th, 2019 — Letter cosigned by 16 associations and societies (PDF):

      American Anthropological Association
      American Comparative Literature Association
      American Historical Association
      American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
      American Sociological Association
      Association for Jewish Studies
      Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies International Center for Medieval Art
      Latin American Studies Association
      Middle East Studies Association
      Modern Language Association
      Phi Beta Kappa Society
      Rhetoric Society of America
      Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing Society of Architectural Historians
      Society of Biblical Literature

    May 20th, 2019 — Middle East Studies Association (PDF)

  • June 5th, 2019
    The People, the Money, the Books: Inside Stanford University Press

    The Stanford Daily | by Elise Miller — (Web | PDF)
    "'University presses are the backbone of humanistic scholarship and … arts and social sciences' at 'every stage' of the 'life cycle of a scholar,' from first-year course readings to first monograph to work as an established scholar, [Professor Thomas Mullaney] said."

    "'I really wish people were able to see … the people that we have here because I think they’d get a very different impression of what we do, how we do it and why we do it,' [SUP Director Alan] Harvey said."

  • June 6th, 2019
    Newsletter: "Upcoming Faculty Senate on June 13th"

    #SupportSUP Newsletter — (Web | PDF)
    "Three Principles for #SupportSUP:

    • Importance of Academic Publishing: SUP is essential to the academic mission of the university.
    • Faculty Governance: Decisions about SUP's future should go through Stanford's Faculty Senate and SUP's Editorial Board.
    • Proper Procedure: The review process should afford full transparency, honor Stanford's rich tradition of active faculty governance, and solicit expert opinions through an external review committee."

  • June 6th, 2019
    Future Uncertain for Stanford University Press

    KQED Forum : NPR | hosted by Michael Krasny, with Tom Mullaney & Scott Jascick — (Web | MP3)
    "A controversy is brewing over the future of the Stanford University Press, which has published research in the humanities and social sciences since 1892. Earlier this year, Stanford University turned down a subsidy request from the press, with some in the administration arguing the press should be self-sustaining. But some faculty members say the press is central to Stanford’s academic mission to produce original scholarship, regardless of profitability. We’ll get an update on the controversy. What do you think? Should university presses think about profit in what they choose to publish?"

  • June 13th, 2019
    The final meeting of Stanford University's 51st Faculty Senate focused on Stanford University Press, with an unprecedent number of attendees. Provost Persis Drell read a statement regarding SUP, Director Alan Harvey presented about Stanford University Press and answered questions from senators. Regarding the process of determining SUP's future, a resolution was proposed, calling for transparency, unbiased scientific rigor, and a committment to faculty consultation and governance. Debate ensued. The motion passed. (Read more about faculty governance at Stanford.)

    SUP Director Alan Harvey presents about the Press, "Stanford's first president, David Starr Jordan, accepted the job on condition that there be a university press..." (see photo album: "Faculty Senate Discusses SUP")

    C-LIB: Statement at June 13 2019 Faculty Senate Session

    At Stanford Faculty Senate by C-Lib (Committee on Libraries), read by Tom Mullaney — (PDF)
    "First, one catalyst for this resolution comes from the origins of the SUP crisis itself - not merely the budgetary decision that was made, which alone would have been enough to trigger a maelstrom of criticism - but also the circumstances surrounding that budgetary decision. Although some have since tried to downplay or deny the record on this point, it is established fact that dismissive, insulting, and unfounded statements were made about SUP by our administration - not just once, but repeatedly - and that these statements, when coupled with Stanford's rejection of SUP's budgetary request - set off a chain reaction of criticism of the Stanford administration and support for SUP, in equal measure."

    Grad Students: Statement Regarding Stanford University Press

    At Stanford Faculty Senate by Stanford Graduate Students in the Humanities and Social Sciences; ready by Jason Beckman — (PDF)
    "Do not threaten to impoverish our futures while making overtures of support for our mental health. We see the repeated attempts by the provost and deans to weigh funding for graduate students against funding for the press and categorically reject this logic as a false choice. Make no mistake that we stand firmly with our faculty advisors and the press on this issue, and will not be used as rhetorical human shields for the administration’s myopic stance towards the Press and academic publishing. "

    Faculty Senate: Summary of Action Taken

    Stanford Faculty Senate Minutes — (PDF)
    "At its meeting on June 13 2019, the Faculty Senate passed, on a divided vote, the following motion, which had been introduced by Professor Adrian Daub..."

  • June 14th, 2019
    Stanford University Press the Focus of Faculty Senate meeting

    Stanford News by Chris Bliss — (Web | PDF)
    "The Stanford University Press took center stage at the Faculty Senate meeting on Thursday, with senate members engaging in a lively discussion about the role of a university press, the challenges of academic publishing and the future of Stanford University Press."

    #EndowSUP: from crisis to consensus on Stanford University Press

    The Book Haven by Cynthia Haven — (Web | PDF)
    "'...Truly, this has been such a self-inflicted wound for Stanford, such an unforced error, that the situation feels largely out of control. It has been remarked that this PR debacle has probably already cost Stanford more money than it would have cost to endow SUP in perpetuity.'"

  • June 24th, 2019
    Stanford University Press and the Wrong Lesson of the Humanities

    The Scholarly Kitchen by Karin Wulf — (Web | PDF)
    "It is perhaps the perfect illustration of what the near-frenetic enthusiasm for technology and business has wrought that it is the university press in the shadow of silicon valley — from the university that has been the seedbed of some of the most important (and arguably, some of the most problematic) innovations of the past century — that is under the gun. The language of “right-sizing” the press, and the concern with “sustainability” that is surely not about quality — after all, SUP is making important contributions to knowledge with every publication — seem to be only about financial investments and returns. Is this what a great university does, is, and should be?"

  • October 31st, 2019
    The Provost-appointed committee, chaired by Prof. Judy Goldstein, has released its report and recommendations regarding the future of Stanford University Press. This was followed a memo by the Faculty Senate ad hoc committee on SUP, including three motions.

    Report from the Provostial Committee on the Future of the Stanford University Press

    Provost-appointed committee chaired by Judy Goldstein — (Announcement | Full Report)
    "Throughout our discussions this summer, we have been struck by the eagerness among all stakeholders to see Stanford University Press thrive. Yet, reaching the goal of a press that is equal to the status of Stanford University has been difficult. Below, we attempt a better understanding of the source of the problems and offer a set of specific recommendations for consideration."

    1. We recommend that the reporting relationship be changed so that the Press again reports directly to the Provost.
    2. We recommend that the Press report additionally to one of two budget officers, either to the Vice President for Business Affairs and Chief Financial Officer or to the Vice Provost for Budget and Auxiliaries Management.
    3. We recommend that the Provost create a Stanford University Press Advisory Board and appoint twelve members.
    4. We recommend that the Committee on Committees of the Faculty Senate select members of an Editorial Board of between 10 and 15 members and that the Provost’s office invite these potential members to serve for 3-year terms, renewable once, with no more than two members from any single department serving at a time.
    5. We recommend that the Advisory Board, Editorial Board, and Director of SUP devise strategies for increasing the alignment of the Press with Stanford University, particularly through expanded outreach to faculty across the university.
    6. We recommend that the university backstop the press for another five years.
    7. We recommend that the Director of SUP should be required to develop a long-range strategic plan in consultation with members of the Advisory Board and members of the Editorial Board.
    8. We recommend that in addition to this long-range strategic plan, the Director of the Press should submit an annual report to the Provost and the Advisory Board of the past year’s activities that includes performance and progress against the goals specified in the long-range strategic plan.

    (Read the full report here.)

    October 31st, 2019
    "Basically the @Stanford Provost comm rec is: @stanfordpress changes its entire ed board, finance, publishing structures and reports to adversarial Provost; in return uni will give you what everyone agrees we already should be giving you. Good?" (tweet thread)
    @mullaney (Professor of History at Stanford)

    November 6th, 2019
    Slouching Toward Palo Alto (Reactions and analysis from Editorial Director of Johns Hopkins University Press)

    Inside Higher Ed by Greg Britton — (Web | PDF)
    "Most remarkable about the report, however, is the committee’s preoccupation with the press’s status compared with its elite peers. The committee relied on a research assistant to search webpages of other academic presses to calculate the percentage of authors from elite institutions, although the exact methodology of this research isn’t described. They assumed that faculty at “the top 10 or 20 universities” must write better books, which presumably would sell better. The committee also admonishes the press to publish more senior faculty and fewer books by new scholars. The assumption, again, is that these will sell better, and, if not, at least bring luster to the operation. This ignores a core mission of a university -- to foster, assess and support the work of junior scholars. Further, it ignores a truth that every editor knows: that that excellent work comes from scholars in every corner of higher education regardless of faculty rank or institutional ranking."

    November 9th, 2019
    Director at JHU Press: “Stanford has a great university press. It’s not clear the Stanford committee believes this.”

    The Book Haven by Cynthia Haven — (Web)
    "'Lost in the recommendations for how to fix the Stanford situation is any recognition that university presses have continued to innovate their way out of this. University presses publish books that extend the reach of scholars beyond the gates of their universities. Yes, they produce field-specific monographs, but they also publish deeply thoughtful books that inform the human condition, solve problems and extend knowledge far and wide. Stanford University Press is no exception.

    Stanford has a great university press. It’s not clear the Stanford committee believes this.'"

  • November 21th, 2019
    Memo from the Faculty Senate ad hoc Committee on the Future of the Stanford University Press

    Faculty Senate-appointed committee chaired by Rich Martin — (Full Report)
    " Many of the ongoing deliberations about the Press have centered on questions of financial performance and sustainability. These discussions must be contextualized by confronting the realities within which the Press operates. Stanford University Press, without any significant endowment or additional programs (such as journals) to support its operation, has maintained consistent financial performance and continually maintained a books program of the highest caliber. A books program will never serve as the basis for a “breakeven” enterprise, when looking solely at monetary returns. Alan Harvey has acknowledged this, and it is widely known by everyone in the academic publishing industry. Speaking at the Association of University Presses roundtable at Stanford University on October 25, 2019, Executive Director Peter Berkery recalled a quip by a former UCLA press director, to a room of scholars who nodded in agreement: “While commercial presses make books to make money, academic presses make money to make books.” The value of these books, when accounting for their impacts on scholarly careers and entire fields, and their intrinsic value as new knowledge, should be taken into account when addressing the question of operating deficits, for an industry within which such a result is always to be expected. Given the limited support afforded by the University, Alan Harvey should be commended for his leadership and the many successes of the Press."

    To telegraph our major recommendation: we are in favor of a tripartite governance system. To that end, we have endorsed the idea of a Board of Governors (recommended in a recent report by the Provost-appointed committee); we formally bring a Motion to establish a standing Committee on the Press; and we move that the Senate entrust the Committee on Committees with the role of appointing members of the SUP Editorial Board. All three components ensure that in the future there will be strengthened and dedicated faculty participation in governance and advising for the Press. The new Committee on the Press will be the lynch-pin for the successful working of this three-fold structure.

    We subsequently detail (below) our recommendations, in response to and in conversation with those submitted by the Provostial Committee on October 15, 2019..."

    (Read the full memo and motions here.)

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