Hey folks. I’ve been seeing some heartbreaking headlines posted all over social media regarding the University of Akron’s potential to close its book press and couldn’t help but to post an open letter to its top administrators: Scott Scarborough (President), Lawrence Burns (Vice President of Advancement), Mike Sherman (Senior Vice President, Provost & Chief Operating Officer), and Paul Herold (Secretary of the Board of Trustees). It’s posted below. If you feel inclined to learn more and see what you can do to help keep the book press in biz, visit the Save The University of Akron Press’ Facebook Page!
Dear Scott Scarborough, Lawrence Burns, Mike Sherman & Paul Herold––
I am writing with uniformed concern for the University of Akron’s book press, and I say uninformed because I am unaware of the school’s situation in full, and, though a bit speculative, I frankly believe media outlets suppress facts to produce more persuasive journalism. If, however, recent headlines are accurate regarding University of Akron’s plans to halt its book press funding, then I am obligated to ask: would you please consider other means to transpose the institution’s budget from deficit to reclamation?
Akron’s book press has been an essential contributor to the literary arts for thirty years, and its most notable effort, I’d argue, is the esteemed Akron Series in Poetry. On the one hand, through an entrepreneurial lens, I can see how one may justify considering poetry an expense worth omitting since, as a product, it has very little monetary value, and its supply trumps its demand. On the other hand, through an academic lens, there is a fundamental need to preserve and respect poetry since it cannot be forgotten the arts are precursors of the sciences, and if academia believes the arts have been exhausted to the extent of futility, then the academy is, in fact, blaspheming its own being.
The first and foremost duty of academia is to embrace and respect preexisting knowledge, to shelter it in order to promote research and discovery and/or creation of yet-to-exist knowledge. Poetry of the past must remain in the proverbial knowledge arsenal, and the poetry of contemporary thinkers that has yet to be written and/or published must remain in the academy’s diet for even more knowledge. The academy must stay hungry for knowledge and remember an appetite for profit belongs to the entrepreneur’s diet.
While I can respect the business component of university operations, I cannot say I fully understand it since I am a romantic with a fervent desire for academia to get reacquainted with its roots, or to at least aim effort toward doing so. There are valid reasons, I’m sure, that the academy has been pressed to take a more corporate approach to operations, but there has got to be a way to balance things and take a reformative approach rather than a transformative approach by remembering knowledge stockpiles as a result of synergy between multiple domains in both the sciences and the arts.
You claim to function as a polytechnic university––an admirable approach. Your website even defines it to an etymological level: Polytechnic = Polutekhnos, which is Polu (many) + tekhné (arts). By cutting the book press, it seems your approach will deflate to: Ligótera (fewer) + tekhné (arts). Please be kind to your reputation and maintain the purity of your polytechnic approach by preserving your book press.
J. Scott Bugher
Founder & Publisher
Split Lip Press & Magazine