Wayne State Fires Leaders of University Press

Three leaders lose jobs at respected press. Reasons are unclear.

February 10, 2020
 

Wayne State University fired three leaders of the university's press -- including the editor in chief -- on Friday.

The reasons for the dismissals are unclear.

Annie Martin, who had been editor in chief, did not respond to a request for comment.

A statement sent by the university to the press's faculty editorial board, and obtained by The Detroit News, said the decision to let the leaders go was "reached only after careful and deep consideration at every level … We believe, moving forward, our future can be created through leadership and staff collectively committed and open to new ideas, deeper community connectivity."

A statement from the university said, "As has occurred with other long-running and distinguished university presses, the host university, Wayne State, recently considered a new path of support for the press, believing the reporting change will help create a sustainable business model that leads to future successes."

The statement apparently refers to a switch in reporting structure. In the fall, the university press would report to the libraries, not the provost, as had been the case.

The press publishes 35 to 40 books a year and 11 journals. It is known for books on Detroit and Michigan, Jewish studies, film and media studies, African American history and culture, and folklore.

The Detroit News article quoted Kathy Wildfong, who was interim director before retiring in the summer, as saying that presses are built on close relationships between staff members and authors. "I am very concerned that this is a first step in closing or changing in some really profound way what the press is and what it does," Wildfong said. "I'm terribly worried about my former colleagues, both those who are staying and those who've been let go."

Matt Lockwood, a spokesman for the university, said via email to Inside Higher Ed, "There were some personnel moves, but not involving the interim director. Wayne State remains committed to its press and it will continue to operate and publish books as it has for more than 75 years."

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