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Release: Immediate

UI English department honors emeritus professor John Gerber with endowed professorship

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa English department has created an endowed professorship in honor of John Gerber, UI professor emeritus of English who spent more than 30 years in the department, serving as chairman for many years and overseeing innovative programs including the Writers' Workshop, the International Writing Program, the Program in Modern Letters, the Center for Textual Studies, and the spin-off departments of Rhetoric and Linguistics.

The announcement was a surprise gift to Gerber at a reception celebrating his 90th birthday Sunday, Feb. 1.

More than 60 people, including several UI leaders, gathered in the Gerber Lounge in the English-Philosophy Building to celebrate Gerber's birthday as well as his academic career. UI President Mary Sue Coleman could not attend the celebration, but sent a two-page letter that praised Gerber's accomplishments during his UI tenure and thanked him for his contribution to the university and its history. "In so many ways, through both administrative acumen and scholarly example, you have put Iowa on the map as a national leader in language, literature, and writing, and we are forever in your debt," Coleman wrote.

In addition to helping transform the UI English department from one devoted to literary history to one with strong concentrations in criticism and theory, cultural studies, folklore, and nonfiction writing, Gerber also has been a champion of interdisciplinary studies. He was instrumental in launching the UI Women's Studies and African-American World Studies Programs.

Among the numerous publications of his scholarly career is the first comprehensive history of the UI, A Pictorial History of the University of Iowa.

In his career as English professor, Gerber founded three major national professional associations­Association of Departments of English, Midcontinent American Studies Association, and the Conference on College Composition and Communication. He has served as president of all three organizations as well as the National Council of Teachers of English.

Gerber remains an active scholar and has published four books, including the Pictorial History, since his 80th birthday.

Interviews with Gerber can be arranged by contacting Mary Geraghty, 384-0011.