Still off state budget, University Press continues to promote its importance

Kentucky’s General Assembly meets in the Capitol building in Frankfort, Kentucky. On Monday, April 2, 2018, the legislature discussed the new budget proposal. 

Taylon Baker

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has been in the hot seat lately due to his proposed budget cut that would eliminate eight programs at UK, one of these being the University Press of Kentucky.

The House decided at a later session that the budget would keep funding for seven of the programs—all of them except the Press. A proposal from the Senate last week also left the Press off the state budget, and as budget talks continue this week its future still remains in question.

“While disappointed to not be included in the House budget proposal, we will continue to tell the story in Frankfort and across the Commonwealth about the importance of the University Press of Kentucky in hopes of securing continued support,” said UPK Director Leila Salisbury. “The legislative process is a long one and there are still many steps left in it.”

The Press publishes around 50-55 books a year, and many students and professors on campus feel that it is an injustice not only to them and their peers, but to people statewide, including the 15 colleges and universities who utilize the UPK.

“I feel like it’s going to devalue literature at the university and make it more challenging for students to pursue their path in becoming an author,” said english and history sophomore Shania Goble.

Founded in 1943, the University Press of Kentucky sponsored scholarly publication at the university. UPK has served as the scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky since 1969, and now serves a plethora of state institutions. They publish academic books of high scholarly merit in a variety of fields, and significant books about the history and culture of Kentucky, the Ohio Valley region, the Upper South and Appalachia.

“I can’t speculate on that,” UK spokesman Jay Blanton said on why the Press was defunded. “Our focus is on telling UK’s story and discussing the policymakers, who are confronted with a number of tough choices, the importance of investing in the state’s flagship institution.”

Since its founding, the UPK has published over 2,000 titles, and they have sold 4.6 million books in 40 countries worldwide. Since 2008, they have published books from 61 faculty and staff members from a “consortium” of Kentucky universities, colleges and historical societies, the UPK website said.

According to UPK, in the July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, fiscal year, 77 percent of the University Press of Kentucky’s operating budget came from earned income and other publishing revenues and grants. While UK provides the only subsidy which the press received at $672,500.

“It’s going to interfere also with certain student’s abilities to further their careers in general,” Goble said. “So many people use the Press as a way to make their writing known and just to grow as a writer.”