The University Press of Kansas wrote to its authors this week to say that its trustees “have initiated an independent review to propose direction for the press’s future amid significant financial challenges.” Richard Clement, former dean of the College of University Libraries and Learning Sciences at the University of New Mexico, was hired as an external consultant to complete that review by March 1. “The trustees will then decide how or if the press will continue to operate,” the note said.
The university did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Last week, it said it couldn’t rule out using a new Kansas Board of Regents policy making it easier to fire tenured faculty members. State universities are currently facing a 5.5 percent budget cut. Joyce Harrison, the press’s editor in chief, said she and her staff weren’t making public statements at this time.
Peter Berkery, director of the Association of University Presses, said he understood that the press’s trustees had commissioned the review in light of the recent departure of its former director, Conrad Roberts. Asked about the general climate for university presses, Berkery said that they have “weathered the pandemic reasonably well, thanks in significant part to strong retail sales during lockdowns. We are acutely cognizant, however, that the financial difficulties COVID is visiting upon higher education are far from over, and we remain attentive to the potential difficulties that may lie ahead.”