New York, NY — AAUP joins with the Association of Canadian University Presses (ACUP) and publishing colleagues, scholars, and readers around the globe to rally support for Wilfrid Laurier University Press (WLUP). Wilfrid Laurier University has recently undertaken an institution-wide assessment that determined that the Press “is not essential to the vision and mission of the University“ and that the subsidy the Press receives should be phased out over the next few years. The recommendation made in that report will have an extremely damaging effect on WLUP, its authors, and the broader scholarly community.
While staggering shortfalls in higher education funding are requiring budget cuts across the province of Ontario, the suggestion that the press is not a central support of Laurier’s mission is as surprising as it is unacceptable. To quote Bill Harnum and Carolyn Wood of the Association of Canadian Publishers, in a statement from 2014 University Press Week:
University presses add important dimensions to their parent institutions: they advance scholarship, provide a forum for the exchange of ideas, work with university libraries to support access to research, and reflect the intellectual interests of the academic community in which they are situated. The best university presses do all that and more: they also preserve the social and political history of the regions where they are based, and bring the perspectives of minority cultures to the scholarly community and wider world. They carry the names of their parent institutions out into the international scholarly community through their publications; in so doing university presses support the links between their home institution and others around the world. Through publishing programs that include regional studies—whether historical, anthropological, political, or botanical—they remind the people of their region of the value of the scholarly engine in its midst. […] This multi-faceted interface between the university and other communities, at home and around the world, is something no other institution can do as well as a university press.
WLUP has been a leader in the dissemination of scholarly research for 40 years.
- Over the past decade alone, books from WLUP have been regularly nominated and have repeatedly won such prestigious awards as the Governor General’s Literary Award in Non-Fiction, the Gabrielle Roy Prize, the Robert Motherwell Award, the Canada Book Prize in the Social Sciences and the Canada Book Prize in the Humanities (both of which are awarded by the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Science.
- WLUP has published widely acclaimed Canadian authors including, Bruce Elder, Janice Stein, Nikki Strong-Boag, and Smaro Kamboureli, as well as such leading Wilfrid Laurier faculty members as Cynthia Comacchio, Michel Desjardins, and Eleanor Ty.
- WLUP established its reputation for excellence in scholarly publishing in the areas of Canadian Literature, Indigenous Studies, Life Writing, Environmental Humanities, Childhood and Family Studies, Film and Media Studies, Cultural Studies, Religious Studies, and Social Work.
The Press and its supporters are working hard to develop a solution to the current challenge that will ensure the future and reputation of Wilfrid Laurier University’s distinguished scholarly publishing while proposing a phased decrease of WLUP’s budget. Working with the university library, the Press sees an opportunity to join with the library’s office of scholarly communications, leveraging each group’s expertise and infrastructure. AAUP supports these efforts on the part of the press and library to ensure that WLUP’s future is as successful as its past; however, we stand in firm opposition to the flawed logic that is forcing such an exercise.
An online petition in support of WLUP has begun circulating, and publishers, scholars, authors, and readers from North America and across the globe have joined an email campaign to remind the Laurier administration of what a prize they have in their press. Both the history and the future of this distinguished Canadian university press deserve celebration. AAUP urges those in the academy and beyond to join in registering support for the essentiality of Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
The Association of American University Presses (AAUP) promotes the work and influence of university presses, provides cooperative marketing opportunities, and helps its 137 member presses fulfill their commitments to scholarship and the dissemination of knowledge. Its members are active across many disciplines and are innovators in the world of electronic publishing. AAUP’s reach goes beyond its membership, through scholarly associations, research libraries, independent book publishers, and many other affiliates.