Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Stop the press

In an era of budget cutbacks, state interference and a thinning timetable, the University of Wisconsin needs to be as financially savvy as possible. And so it comes as disconcerting to learn UW Press had racked up a $2.8 million debt, as first reported by this newspaper Thursday.

This heavy red figure, apparently accumulated during Robert Mandel's five-year tenure at the helm, is weighty even by university press standards (and such presses frequently do run deficits) and an outright embarrassment for the school at a time when public relations have hardly been going Bascom's way. And perhaps more troubling yet, Mr. Mandel, despite being removed from his position, is still on the school's payroll — earning a consultant's fee equivalent to the director's salary he received.

To be sure, UW Press funds are not directly portioned out of the school's general account. And so a microscopic sum-zero analysis of whether the money would have been better spent on classes is not wholly fair. It is also worth noting that part of the back catalogue may yet prove profitable, thus decreasing the staggering $2.8 million figure.

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But the reality is that UW Press has been hemorrhaging money. And while the obvious course of action to remedy such an issue — ensuring the department's director be removed from his post through one means or another — has been followed through, we must ask why it took so long for this to happen and, perhaps more troubling yet, why he is still making $141,407 a year.

UW has learned a brash lesson this summer about openness: stalling, kicking and screaming will not make a story go away. Otherwise manageable situations have quickly approached Nixonian status for the school, with the proverbial cover-ups gaining more blame than the acts themselves. And while a university press run amuck likely won't attract national talk show segments, it is still time that the school get Mr. Mandel off the payroll, come clean with the veritable fiasco that has become UW Press and initiate a new policy of public openness.

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