Yesterday I learned that Kentucky governor Matt Bevin plans to cut funding to the University Press of Kentucky this year, which would force its closure. I have enjoyed a productive working relationship with UPK for over ten years and would hate to see this happen.
The press relies on a relatively small amount of funding that covers the salaries of their sixteen employees. The rest comes from book sales, which in recent years appear to be healthy. According to the publisher’s director, “the press is doing great.”
As many of you know, UPK has consistently published important titles in the field of Civil War history as well as other areas of American history and beyond.
My first two publications in edited collections were with with UPK. That eventually led to a contract for my first book on the history and memory of the battle of the Crater. The staff was a pleasure to work with. They worked around my full-time commitments as a high school teacher and were receptive to my own suggestions when warranted. I can’t think of a better place to wade into the world of academic publishing.
But regardless of the value of my own scholarship, UPK has been essential in advancing and promoting the history and culture of the state of Kentucky. Why any governor would want to pull the plug on important work that promotes history and education is beyond me, but it is hard not to see this as just another example of the anti-intellectualism of the Republican Party.
The next week will be critical to the future of UPK. Please consider joining me in contacting the governor and encouraging him to reconsider. The value that UPK brings to the university system of Kentucky and the state’s culture as a whole far surpasses the relatively small amount of state funding it receives.