It’s just kind of mind-boggling.
“It is with regret that we make the decision to suspend operations of the SMU Press, which has enjoyed a distinguished history of publishing,” Paul Ludden, the University’s provost and vice president for academic affairs said in a fairly disingenuous statement.
The press, which has three employees and an annual budget of about $400,000, publishes about ten books a year.
There has been a bit of an uproar in protest.
“Closing SMU Press would be a disastrous decision,” wrote Ann Beattie.
“This a blow to the national literary community,” said John Dufresne.
It goes beyond that.
This is a decision that really goes to the heart of some of the greater problems facing the country, where we have our priorities. I’m not just talking about simple platitudes like housing not bombs or something.
They’ve allowed their athletic department to lose more than $93 million over the past six years.
While SMU’s endowment fell about 25 percent last year to just more than $1 billion, they still have an endowment of JUST MORE THAN $1 BILLION!
They had enough money to pay their president more than $1 million, nearly three times the average salary of a university president.
SMU’s football coach, former football coach, basketball coach, provost, dean of the business school. athletic director were among the employees who had salaries greater than THE ENTIRE BUDGET of SMU Press.
I’m not saying fire any of these people.
But, think about this. If the football coach took a $200,000 pay cut — he would still make more than $1 million — and the basketball coach took a $150,000 pay cut — he would still make $400,000 — than there would only be a need to only come up with $50,000 to save the press.
The university could take $400,000 from their endowment and still have an endowment of more than $1 billion.
SMU, in its history has produced great literature, including some recent honorees.
In this world of IPads and Kindles and Nooks, we also need to look out for the traditional presses — especially the smaller ones — to help find the talent to create the “content” for people to read on their devices.
The message couldn’t be clearer:
SMU can’t be allowed to kill its press.