The University Press of Mississippi receives grants from NEH CARES Act

Published 2:56 pm Thursday, July 16, 2020

The University Press of Mississippi is a recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) CARES Act grant.

The NEH CARES grant awarded $94,097 to the University Press of Mississippi to provide partial salary support for six full-time employees. This will allow the press to continue its work on the approximately 85 new humanities books they plan to publish.

“The University Press of Mississippi was one of ten university presses to receive NEH CARES grants,” Paula Wasley, the Senior Public Affairs Specialist for NEH, said. “The total of these 10 grants is $1,034,256. For context, these grants are among 317 NEH grants to cultural institutions around the country affected by the coronavirus pandemic.”

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The money from the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act will be used to help sustain academic publishing efforts. It will also help support the editing and publication of new books and journals on humanities topics, facilitate scholarly communication and enable the digitation of scholarly ebooks to make humanities research widely accessible.

“The NEH funds are going towards salary expenses, which will free up the Press to invest our sales revenue in new books,” Craig Gill, the director of the University Press of Mississippi, said. “The Press receives great support from our eight state universities, but with the drop in sales, we need to maximize revenue from any and all sources, including grants such as this one. We also received a CARES grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council to help with salary expenses in May and June. These two grants together have allowed us to remain fully operational with no delays or cancellations.” 

The pandemic is said to have placed financial stress on cultural organizations and universities across the country, including nonprofit presses.

“The Press has suffered a drop in sales revenue with the closing of bookstores in Mississippi, the nation, and around the world,” Gill said. “But we are fortunate to be safe and able to work remotely. Modern publishing can be done with a remote staff so long as you have the right people and good technological infrastructure in place. We are fortunate to have both, including the ability to print and ship books from warehouses around the world, a strong ebook program, and great local partners like Square Books and all of our independent Mississippi stores. Looking ahead, I think book sales will eventually rebound, but sales will continue to be uncertain in the coming months.”

The University Press of Mississippi was one of 10 university presses to receive NEH CARES funding. The 10 were selected out of 2,300 eligible applications.

“NEH is pleased to be able to provide emergency relief funding to help the University Press of Mississippi weather the financial distress caused by the pandemic,” Jon Parrish Peede, the NEH Chairman, said. “Having served as publisher of the Virginia Quarterly Review and as an editor at Mercer University Press for many years, I know how important these presses are in delivering the lifework of today’s scholars to readers and researchers. The University Press of Mississippi has a long history of publishing important scholarly work that presents the rich history, literature, and heritage of Mississippi and the South to readers around the globe. NEH is pleased to help connect academic communities through books.”