02/10/20 Wayne Press Mess

Dear Colleagues:

The arbitrary administrative behavior of Dean of Libraries, Jon Cawthorne, was in evidence when he approved the firing of three respected senior University Press managers. The Interim Director, Ms. Tara Reeser, a Cawthorne appointee, called them into a meeting and fired them. The matter was reported in the Detroit News, Publishers Weekly (PW), and Inside Higher Education.

PW stated that the three managers were: "editor-in-chief Annie Martin; editorial/design/production manager Kristin Harpster; and marketing/sales manager Emily Nowak. The three, who collectively had approximately 54 years experience at WSUP, were called into a meeting, informed that they were dismissed effective immediately, and then escorted from the building on Wayne State University’s urban campus in Midtown Detroit by campus police." Such tactics have become standard operating procedures in the Administration of President M. Roy Wilson, when employees are terminated.

The report in PW indicated that this personnel move may portend a basic shift in publication policy. When Dean Cawthorne was at his last post, he was, according to PW "a passionate advocate for digital publishing. At West Virginia University (WVU), he promoted both digital publishing and open access scholarship by establishing the WVU Digital Publishing Institute."

Kathryn Wildfong, "the retired interim director, praised the three fired employees and described them as 'the heart of the press' who did 'amazing' work." Wildfong had worked at the Press for 33 years. There is no evidence that the 15-member faculty editorial board of the Press was consulted.

University Spokesman, Matt Lockwood, passed the incident off as part of normal operations at the Press, and stated that "there are no plans to reduce or slow down its publishing schedule." In other words just another day at the beach at Wayne State.

In solidarity,



Charles J. ParrishPresident, AAUP-AFT, Local 6075, WSU ChapterVice President-at-Large, AFT MichiganPresident, AAUP Michigan ConferenceMember-at-Large, National Council, AAUP5057 Woodward Avenue, Suite 3301Detroit, MI 48202313.577.1750