Geography major Christie (Rabke) Henry ’91 began her career at the Chicago Tribune before becoming an editorial assistant at the University of Chicago Press in 1993. Over the following decades, she rose through the ranks and became editorial director for science, social science, and reference books in 2008. On September 1 she started a new chapter in her career when she became the first woman to direct the Princeton University Press.
Was there an experience at Dartmouth that made you realize you wanted to work in academic publishing?
Dartmouth definitely promoted the culture of the book, and that appreciation and admiration for authors and writers that enlivened many faculty and courses has endured with me. I particularly remember the immersive experience of Professor [Don] Pease’s 20th century American literature course, and the deep dive into Moby Dick, among others. Gaining insight into an author’s intentions was illuminating. But I also know my enthusiasm for science publishing originated in many of the field courses in geography, standing in icy waters with Frank Magilligan [The Frank J. Reagan '09 Chair of Policy Studies and professor of geography], counting tree rings with Laura Conkey [professor emeritus of geography]. More than anything, the faculty engagement and interest in ideas and students at Dartmouth shaped my appreciation for the mission of university press publishing, to bring the intellectual pursuits of such creative faculty to readers and conversations the world over.
Your appointment to Princeton University Press this summer was a historic one: you’ll be the first woman to direct the press. How do you feel about breaking this glass ceiling?
I was very fortunate that pioneering women at Dartmouth opened the doors for me in the late 80s. I had a French teacher in high school, Deb Jennings, one of those formidably strong pioneering Dartmouth women, and whom I thank for pointing me north to Hanover. The publishing ecosystem is quite unique, university presses in particular for their gender balance. But at the same time, I want to be sure to open doors for more female leaders in university press publishing. I have been incredibly fortunate in the arc of my publishing career, and this next chapter is one of profound excitement and gratitude for me; part of my responsibility is absolutely to help create more narratives like this for others.
For two decades before your move to Princeton, you worked at the University of Chicago Press, publisher of the Chicago Manual of Style. What’s one grammatical or style error that really drives you crazy, and why?
I have been so lucky to collaborate with a team of exceptionally talented manuscript editors, the style mavens behind CMOS (which is in its 17th edition as of this month). I will take a more macro approach to this question, which some would find too typical of an acquiring editor. But I think more than anything, what had me pointing most to CMOS over these years are inconsistencies in manuscript preparation on the part of authors, and particularly with references and notes. The infrastructure of a manuscript needs to be as finessed as the writing itself, and with the rise of electronic aids, the attention, and intention, toward manuscript preparation has devolved in my experience. I think all authors should take a tour through the pages, or the webpage, of CMOS as part of their authorial journey.