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Pulitzer winners Graham, McPherson become Miller Distinguished Professors
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Poet Jorie Graham and fiction writer James Alan McPherson
have been named the first F. Wendell Miller Distinguished Professors in
the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.
Graham and McPherson are graduates of the workshop and long-time faculty
members. Graham's "The Dream of the Unified Field" won the Pulitzer
Prize for Poetry, and McPherson won the Pulitzer Prize for his short-story
collection, "Elbow Room." Each has also been the recipient of
a MacArthur Fellowship, which is popularly known as the "genius grant."
Graham's latest book of poetry is "The Errancy," and McPherson
received considerable critical attention for his recent memoir, "Crabcakes."
The addition of the Miller professorships triples the number of named
chairs in the Writers' Workshop, providing opportunities to honor faculty
members who have helped maintain the status of the Writers' Workshop as
the world's pre-eminent creative writing program. Poet Marvin Bell, another
faculty member who is also a workshop alumnus, is the Flannery O'Connor
Professor of Letters.
"I am enormously proud of the distinction that Jorie and Jim bring
to the college and the impact they have had on our students," said
Linda Maxson, dean of the UI College of Liberal Arts. "Both are excellent
teachers and incredibly generous mentors for undergrads and grads alike."
"The named chairs recognize aspects of their creative work as well
as the literary achievements that have brought them renown outside the
academic community. Our academic and town communities are both enormously
enriched by their presence in our midst."
The distinguished professorships are named for F. Wendell Miller, an
attorney and farm manager from Rockwell City, Iowa, who died in 1995. Miller's
will left the bulk of his estate to the UI and Iowa State University to
encourage the advancement of academic endeavors. The Miller Endowment Trust
was established from the Miller estate, with interest and income from the
trust divided equally between ISU and the UI.