The backbone of any distinguished university is its strong academics and gifted professors. Research journals and literature published by a university not only strengthen its reputation as a leading research institution, but also allow professors and graduate students to display their work to the scholarly world. These published works help professors gain tenure and worldwide recognition for their research and teachings. Academic presses shouldn’t be viewed as short-term business investments by universities; instead, they should be seen as long-term investments in the future of education and academic achievement.

News that the University of Missouri will be shutting down its printing press in 2013 has outraged professors and students alike. The $400,000 subsidy that funds the press every school year has been pulled by the university’s administration. Ten employees will lose their jobs as a result of this decision, and university professors will have a more difficult time publishing their work in print. The switch to digital publishing will likely diminish public access to certain books, as it may be more difficult to read online books without a subscription. Sadly, this is a growing trend in America — half a dozen presses have shut their doors in the past three years, according to a recent New York Times article.

Academic presses play an essential role at any university. They allow professors to publish their work and share their knowledge with the academic world. Without these presses, professors won’t have the same opportunity to publish their research, and they may have greater difficulty getting tenure as a result. In addition, the switch to digital publishing will not only affect the professors, but also the students. Many graduate students need to publish their research to earn a doctorate, and by shutting down presses and cutting staff, this process becomes much more challenging. This changes the course of academics and discourages many potential graduate students from attending universities without presses.

Another challenge associated with the switch to digital publishing is diminished public access to academic research and literature. If published works aren’t being printed in hard copy, it becomes more difficult for outside universities and scholars to get a hold of this research without a subscription. Not all universities have access to scholarly journals online, so ordering a hard copy from popular websites like Amazon.com may be the only way to obtain published literature.

The growing trend of shutting down academic presses is a serious problem that colleges across the nation are facing. University leaders need to realize that these presses are not solely a business investment, but rather an investment in scholarly research and the future of higher education.

At the core of prestigious universities lies the scholarly work and research that professors publish to share with the world. These articles connect universities and help us to move forward as an educated society. We need academic presses on college campuses so professors and students can display their works and help strengthen the reputation of their university. Presses are necessary to create hard copies of literature that the public can more easily access. We need university leaders and administrators to step up to the plate and accept that academic presses are essential to a thriving academic community.

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