Amid a growing controversy about the fate of its nationally regarded book publishing venture — and the dismissal of the director who built it — the University of New Orleans issued a statement about UNO Press on Monday.
Writing in an email, UNO spokesman Adam Norris said, “The UNO Press is not being closed. It is [now] on a brief hiatus, during which time it will be accepting no new manuscripts while the administration reviews the UNO Press’ business plan. The UNO Press plays an important role as a publisher of scholarly and literary books, and we hope it will return to full operation soon. All contracts that have been issued will be honored.”
News of changes at the press had begun to spread on the Internet this past week as authors and students launched a petition drive in support of its ousted director, professor Bill Lavender.
Lavender has led the press since 2007, helping to give a national presence to the enterprise, which now has about 80 books in print. Lavender was the sole employee of the press, which he ran with the assistance of four graduate students. Lavender also lost his position with the university’s low-residency writing program for master’s of fine arts students who did much of their work online and met with faculty for brief, intensive periods of study.