Governor Matt Bevin has introduced a budget that includes dramatic cuts to a number of important programs in Kentucky. A full list can be found here. One of the programs on the chopping block is the University Press of Kentucky, which depends upon the state for a portion of its operating budget.
I am not neutral observer on this question. I sit on the board of UPK (an enormously intellectual rewarding position, if you ever get a chance to do something similar), and of course Grounded was published by the UPK. It should surprise no one that I am a strong advocate of the value of what UPK does, both for Kentucky and for the broader national community. I’m not going to argue against any of the other priorities. This, it seems to me, is a fool’s game; almost all of these programs are of value, and the government of the Commonwealth of Kentucky would be better advised to find appropriate revenue streams than to cut away at the things that make the state great.
Having served on the board, and having read more than a few UPK books (I discuss some in a twitter thread here) I can unequivocally testify to the value of the works that UPK brings to the public. The particular strengths of the Press lay in its Military History collection, its Classic Hollywood collection, and its collections in Kentucky studies, Appalachian studies, civil rights, and diplomatic history.
Obviously, not everyone who reads this blog hails from Kentucky. Nevertheless, I think it would be helpful to give (in a respectful, cordial way) the legislators contemplating these cuts a sense of the value of a good university press for the Commonwealth. I’ve quoted some material below on ways to help:
Now is the time to make a case for the Press’s longstanding contribution to the Commonwealth. Please consider contacting legislators of both parties, and conversations with lawmakers you know personally will be of even greater benefit to the Press. Reaching out to legislators on the [Senate] and [House] appropriations and revenue committees is key, and your advocacy between now and early next week is critical. Many of the legislators on these committees hail from the western, eastern, and northern parts of the state, so it will also help for lawmakers to understand that we are an operation that serves all of Kentucky, not just UK.
Did you know:
- The Press has sold more than 4.6 MILLION books since its founding in 1943!
- UPK is a consortium operation of ALL Kentucky’s state universities, as well as five private colleges and the two major historical Societies; it is one of only 6 consortium presses in the country
- The Press published 61 books by consortium partner authors in the past ten years, more than 12% of our publications
- We are a thoroughly bipartisan operation with something for everyone: Kentucky’s outdoors and natural history, bourbon history, and military history are among our prime publishing areas
The University Press of Kentucky enters its 75th year stronger than ever, reaching readers around the globe and telling the story of Kentucky’s rich and complex culture and heritage. With your help and advocacy, we can look towards a long and bright future.