Wayne State president weighs in on university press overhaul

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — After a shakeup at Wayne State University Press last week, President M. Roy Wilson intervened Friday to detour speculation, saying the school has no intention of dismantling or discontinuing its work.

A week ago, three managers of the University Press were terminated including the press's editor-in-chief. The decision was "reached only after careful and deep consideration at every level," according to a statement to the faculty editorial board, which was obtained by The News. 

Wayne State Press is located in the center of campus at, 4809 Woodward Ave, Detroit.

The decision faced backlash online and 60 writers, reviewers and scholars signed an open letter insisting that the University Press immediately reinstate the three managers: editor-in-chief Annie Martin; Kristin Harpster, a design and production manager; and sales and marketing director Emily Nowak.

The letter stated it "is a breach of trust with the authors who have built relationships and served as ambassadors of the press in the academic and wider community ... moreover, these decisions will undermine the ability of Wayne State Press to recruit and serve scholars and writers at all stages of the publication process."

Wilson reviewed the actions taken by the University Press "and while it is inappropriate to discuss personnel matters publicly, I understand the rationale behind them," he said.

Dr. M. Roy Wilson, President of Wayne St. University, answers a question.

In a letter to colleagues, he said the university intends to support the University Press' mission and have already begun the search process to fill the positions quickly. In the meantime, Tara Reeser will continue as interim director of the WSU Press.

The University Press has been a leading publisher of Great Lakes books, Judaica, and African American studies since 1941. The Press, which is located in the center of campus on Woodward Avenue, publishes approximately 40 new books and 11 journals per year.

"Additionally, to ensure we meet our contractual obligations, we are exploring outside contractual services to provide support as necessary," he said.

Wilson ordered the University Press to begin reporting to his office through his chief of staff, Michael Wright, who also leads WDET and is vice president of marketing and communications for the university.

"As I mentioned in response to concerns expressed earlier this week, the mission of the WSU Press — 'generating high-quality scholarly and general interest works of global importance' — remains intact. And the work of the press — especially the timeless art of publishing scholarly, necessary and interesting books — continues. I appreciate your work and support during this time of transition."


Twitter: @SarahRahal_