When word got out in early May that Louisiana State University might slash its press’s subsidy as a result of the state’s budget contraction, Michael V. Martin, chancellor of the Baton Rouge campus, issued a brief written statement. For those who admire the press, it was not very reassuring:
“We hope the governor and our legislature will provide sufficient funding to maintain support of LSU Press, as it is a very valuable asset to this university, the people of the state, and many beyond,” Mr. Martin said. “We face, however, extraordinary economic conditions, and we must protect the academic core of LSU first and foremost.”
Anyone who cares about university presses should pay close attention to Mr. Martin’s choice of words. His statement makes it plain that being a “valuable asset” no longer guarantees a press a secure place in the “academic core” of its parent institution. These days, that can be a fatal degree of separation.