The aftermath of last week’s firings of three senior Wayne State University Press employees, including editor-in-chief Annie Martin, continues to roil the Detroit university and the scholarly publishing community beyond Michigan. On Friday morning, in response to the tumult within the university and the negative publicity in local, national, and international media that shows no sign of abating, Wayne State University president M. Roy Wilson weighed in with a letter addressed to his colleagues concerning the ongoing controversy – including his order that WSUP’s interim director Tara Reeser to henceforth report to WSU’s chief of staff in the president’s office, rather than to Jon Cawthorne, the dean of WSU’s library system.
“Some of this discussion has been negative and speculative,” Wilson wrote, “But underlying all of the discussions are legitimate concerns that I would like to address immediately.” Disclosing that he has reviewed the “personnel actions [that] were taken,” he insisted that he understood the rationale behind the firings and that there was already a search in place for new employees to replace Martin, as well as editorial, design, and production manager Kristin Harpster and marketing and sales manager Emily Nowak.
“Effective immediately, the WSU Press will report to my office through Wayne State’s chief of staff, Michael Wright,” he wrote, explaining that Wright’s expertise in marketing and communications should position the press for “stability and success” as the university tries to weather this storm, which includes a letter sent Monday to the provost and to Dean Cawthorne, in which approximately 60 authors and others affiliated with the press, including former director Jane Ferreyra that condemned the firing of highly-regarded and long-time employees and demanded their immediate reinstatement.
Wilson did not disclose in his letter that senior production editor Carrie Downes Teefey resigned her position on Sunday, leaving WSUP without design, editorial or production staff after her departure on Friday, Feb. 21. Wilson did affirm the university’s support for the press though, and promised to hire contract workers as needed.
This story has been updated regarding Carrie Downes Teefey's resignation timeline. It will leave no editorial, production, or design staff at the press.