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Stanford University Press spared

STANFORD -- The Stanford University Press, studied for possible elimination in recent budget discussions, has been given a new lease on life.

Consideration of closing the Press has ended, said Provost-designate Gerald J. Lieberman.

In an April 6 letter to Press Director Grant Barnes, Lieberman said he has determined that the "Press continues to be an important scholarly resource and significant university asset."

The university has been subsidizing the Press, the university's book-publishing operation, by about $450,000 per year. Rather than eliminating it, as earlier suggested by some, the university will reduce the subsidy by $200,000.

Lieberman's decision followed a scholarly review by a faculty committee, and financial scrutiny by university budget officials and independent auditors.

The faculty committee, headed by English Prof. George Dekker, rejected an idea of diverting what would remain of the Press subsidy to a humanities research fund. Serving with Dekker on the ad hoc committee were Profs. Keith Baker, history; Arnold Eisen, religious studies; Marsh McCall, classics; and Mary Pratt, Spanish and Portuguese, and comparative literature.

"We conclude that the existence of a first-class university press should be a central priority of Stanford University in its second century," Dekker wrote in a letter to Lieberman. Closing the Press would be seen as a "betrayal of responsibility" and as "an act of desperation."

"Without exception, the greatest American universities have distinguished university presses," he wrote. "Stanford claims to be, and is, such a university. It must be able to claim such a press."

Barnes expressed relief at the decision, saying it ended "many months of worry." He said his staff had been "buoyed" by strong support from faculty members and scholars elsewhere during months of indecision. The Press recently eliminated four staff positions as a budget-cutting measure, he said.

Many "first-rate books" are scheduled for publication, Barnes said, including Paul Ehrlich's study of endangered bird species, Birds in Jeopardy, which will have an initial press run of 20,000.

Barnes said the Stanford Press ranks just below the "big five" - Chicago, Harvard, Princeton, the University of California and Yale - which are all much larger enterprises. Stanford's output recently has climbed to 75 new titles per year.

Dekker's committee noted that the Stanford Press is ranked first or second nationally among university presses in Russian, Asian and Latin American studies, and recently has become "an important player" in literary history and theory.

In the areas where its lists are strong, "the Press reinforces the perception of scholars elsewhere that their disciplines are taken seriously and pursued vigorously at Stanford," Dekker wrote. The Press also is a potential resource for all of Stanford's academic programs, he said.


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