Ottawa, December 18, 2014
Dr. Max Blouw
President and Vice-Chancellor
Wilfrid Laurier University
75 University Avenue West
Dear Dr. Blouw,
I would like, as president of the Canadian Historical Association (CHA), to strongly urge you to continue to fully support the outstanding publishing program at Wilfrid Laurier University Press (WLUP).
The CHA is a bilingual not-for-profit and charitable association devoted to fostering the scholarly study and communication of history in Canada. With more than 1,100 members, it is the largest of its kind in the country.
By now you probably have heard from others about the Press's impressive achievements, its leadership as a publisher of Canadian Literature and Indigenous Studies, its many awards, including: The Governor General's Literary Award in Non-Fiction; Gabrielle Roy Prize; the Sir John A. Macdonald Prize (Canadian Historical Association); and the Canada Book Prize in the Social Sciences and the Humanities (Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences), and the undeniable value it adds to Ontario and to Canada.
Let me add that WLUP also provides tremendous value for money, advancing Wilfrid Laurier University's educational mission around the globe and spreading its name to institutions and individuals who otherwise would have no contact with the University. I would like to point to four historians in particular whose outstanding research was recognised by various committees of the prestigious Sir John A. Macdonald Prize over the years. The prize is awarded to the best scholarly book in Canadian history each year by the CHA and is chosen amongst more than 100 books that are regularly submitted for the competition. Five books are shortlisted and two received (until 2013) honourable mentions. WLUP recognises the value of the books honoured in the competition since it translated my own book Aux origines sociales de l'Etat-providence that received an honourable mention for the Sir John A. Macdonald Prize in 1999. In addition, James Walker, who was shortlisted in 1998 for his book “Race,” Rights and the Law in the Supreme Court of Canada in 1998 as well as Cynthia Comacchio, The Dominion of Youth, Adolescence and the Making of Modern Canada, 1920 to 1950 (2007), and Veronica Strong-Boag, Fostering Nation? Canada Confronts Its History of Childhood Disadvantage (2012) who both received honourable mentions for the prize, are prime examples of the need for WULP to continue “advance new developments in scholarly discourse, contribute to education within and beyond the university, and reflect both our local and global community through the world of ideas.” These worthy objectives correspond perfectly with Wilfrid Laurier University’s mission, which is “devoted to excellence in learning, research, scholarship and creativity” and vision, which is to support the “discovery, scholarly exploration, and application of new ideas”.
Wilfrid Laurier surely faces profound budgetary challenges, and difficult decisions must be made. In weighing those decisions, however, consider that it takes decades of thoughtful work by skilled professionals to build a publishing program of the calibre and effectiveness of WLUP, but only the stroke of a pen to cripple it irrevocably. I urge you not to wield that pen. Thank you for supporting Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
Canadian Historical Association
Cc: James Butler, VP Finance
Deborah MacLatchy, VPA and Provost
Dr. Blouw's response, December 19, 2014
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