ATG Star of the Week: Leila W. Salisbury, Director, University Press of Mississippi

by | Dec 27, 2012 | 0 comments

Name: Leila W. Salisbury
Title: Director
Organization: University Press of Mississippi
Address: 3825 Ridgewood Road, Jackson MS 39211
Phone: 601-432-6205
Fax: 601-432-6217


Born and lived: Born in Virginia, grew up in central Kentucky, went to college in North Carolina, grad school in Georgia, and worked back in Kentucky until I moved to the “real” South, i.e. Jackson, Mississippi four and a half years ago.

Early life: My grandfather was a real reader, and I remember “editing” my friends’ stories by third or fourth grade. Apparently when I was 13, I announced that I wanted to work in scholarly publishing. Let’s just say I was a focused child.

Professional career and activities: I began interning in the editorial department at the University Press of Kentucky when I was in college and I never looked back. I’ve worked as an assistant to the director, publicist, marketing director, acquisitions editor, and now a press director. I’ve served on various committees of the Association of American University Presses over the years, and I’m consistently grateful for my colleagues and mentors around the country who are unfailingly generous with their time and wisdom about the work that we do.

Family: A daughter in first grade (she began making her own little books this year!)

In my spare time: I enjoy container gardening (you can grow lovely snow peas and carrots in a pot), baking (browned butter and sea salt chocolate chip cookies are a new favorite), travel, and yes, reading when I make the time.

Favorite books: I’ll list authors instead: Nabokov, Austen, A.S. Byatt, David Mitchell, Ann Patchett, and I would be thrown out of Jackson if I didn’t also list our own Eudora Welty.

Pet peeves: Limited imaginations.

Philosophy: Have a vision, be demanding (but also be nice about it).

Most memorable career achievement: Starting my first director job at the beginning of the recession was a real education in change management. But after that first year, the press was back in the black and we just self-funded the digital conversion of our full backlist. I can’t say enough good things about my staff that made these things happen during some very tough times.

Goal I hope to achieve five years from now: To have successfully managed a digital workflow transition for the press to make our content even more searchable and discoverable/accessible, and also to see university press publishing thrive as a whole, shedding the “broken dinosaurs” label.

How/where do I see the industry in five years (please answer this question if you answer none of the others): Here’s what I’d like to see: university presses at the center of conversations and forward movement regarding peer-reviewed scholarship and advances in scholarly communication. I’d like to see us highly valued by our administrations and authors for the value we add and at the forefront of electronic publishing and making creative use of digital content. I’d like us to be nimble, think big, and to embrace change when it serves our core mission.


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