Wednesday, July 29, 2015 at 1:51AM
I just found out today that the University of Akron Press, which is the home to two of my books and an anthology I co-edited, has been shuttered due to budget cuts at the University of Akron. I've posted a protest letter on Facebook and Twitter. The letter is here:
Dear President Scarborough and the Board of Trustees:
The decision to shut down vital humanities programs and institutions at the University of Akron is troubling and suspect.
While I am sympathetic to universities facing budgetary shortfalls as a Professor at a similar Regional Comprehensive institution, cutting key programs that provide access to students who are interested in the arts as well as programs that support students of color is grossly negligent. Cutting the University of Akron Press, EJ Thomas Hall, and the Multicultural Center will cripple your students' and potential students' access to mentoring, apprenticeship opportunities, and vital services that are pivotal in to recruitment and retention.
I am personally invested in the work of the University of Akron Press as one of its long-time press authors, having published three books with the press. I can attest to the national reputation of the press. Writers such as Beckian Fritz-Goldberg, Jeanne E. Clark, and John Gallaher, and Emilia Phillips are important writers with a national reach and strong reputations in the writing community. Additionally, A Face to Meet the Faces, an anthology Stacey Brown and I published through the University of Akron Press, includes work by many significant authors including Pulitzer Prize nominee, Cornelius Eady, National Book Award Finalist Patricia Smith, and host of other luminaries in the literary arts. The work produced by the press is used in high school, university, and college classrooms across the country and by closing the press you are irrevocably damaging the reputation of the University of Akron and the integrity of the University's mission to "ensure student success and leverage [your] region's assets in the creation of knowledge and application of research that benefits humankind."
Cutting the University of Akron Press runs counter to the Vision 2020 plan which had been endorsed by the Board of Trustees under the previous administration. Indeed, a community and its university are "interlinked" as stated in the letter, and by cutting vital community-centered programs like the University of Akron Press, EJ Thomas Hall, and the Multicultural Center while spending $375,000 on presidential house renovations clearly signifies an administration that is out of touch with its own community.
I will be forwarding this letter to Americans for the Arts, Cave Canem, Canto Mundo, Kundiman, and a number of other national arts organizations who are invested in arts programming and student advocacy. Your tragically short-sighted decision has local, national, and long-term repercussions that will severely damage the reputation of the University of Akron.
Oliver de la Paz
Professor of English
Western Washington University
516 High Street
Bellingham, WA 98225