One of the most frustrating things about this whole situation is that the future of the press depended upon a mere $400,000 annual subsidy. As has been pointed out by many, this is dwarfed by the salary of Missouri's football coach, Gary Pinkel, who makes over $2 million a year. A local newspaper puts it best... UM has "changed its core mission", and I think the same could be said for many other colleges and universities who dump all of their money into sports and then shrug their shoulders when they can't put together an academic structure that is even remotely functional. Would that all college sports were intramural! I want to be careful not to entirely dismiss the benefits of extracurricular investments by universities... I know, especially from my experiences over the past year living and working with undergraduates, that a broadly enriching residential life is a great contribution to the university community, and that this isn't cheap. But it certainly doesn't require multi-million dollar stadiums, or even varsity sports.
When university presses are made to grovel for paltry subsidies while good space and resources are being wasted on games and merchandise, we've lost the point of what we're doing here. Contrary to the extremely unhelpful (though apparently well-intentioned?) piece by Marshall Poe in IHE, this is not a problem of publishers not knowing how to use the internet effectively, or not being efficient enough, or relevant enough, or cheap enough. That's all bullcrap. Find a university press with atrocious business sense and a catalogue of the most opaque research tomes that are completely uninteresting to the wider reading public, and the press will still be a better justified investment than most anywhere else that their subsidy money
Living up to utilitarian excuses for why we might lose our funding next year is a distraction from our work as scholars. Education and research are expensive commitments, and those who have an interest in competent governance of them need to get used to that fact. In the realm of the wider public, where people can vote with their wallets by funding other things than our schools and libraries, it makes sense that we will need to offer some account of the value of critical research and liberal studies. We need to instill in future donors, future parents of students, and voters a realization of the importance of university work for their lives and the betterment of the community. We should not, however, need to make this case within the university itself. An administration operating under this level of incompetence should simply be replaced.