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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 27, 2003

Photos: National Humanities Medal; Writers' Workshop Director Frank Conroy.

Iowa Writers' Workshop Wins National Humanities Medal

The University of Iowa Writers' Workshop has been selected to receive the National Humanities Medal, presented by the U.S. government to honor America's leaders in the humanities. Only one organization has been honored in the past -- all the other honorees have been individuals -- and the Iowa Writers' Workshop is the first university-based organization to be honored.

President George W. Bush will present the medal to Frank Conroy, director of the Writers' Workshop, in a White House ceremony today (Thursday, Feb. 27) in Washington, D.C.

"The Iowa Workshop was the first in the country, and I am accepting this award for all the people who have built it over its 67-year history," Conroy said. "We are deeply grateful for this national recognition."

The National Humanities Medal, administered by the National Endowment for the Humanities since 1988, honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation's understanding of the humanities, broadened citizens' engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand Americans' access to important resources in the humanities.

Each year, the endowment solicits nominations from throughout the country in humanities fields including history, literature and philosophy.

The only previous organization to be honored was the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Well-known individual honorees include Studs Terkel, Toni Morrison, Garrison Keillor, Jim Lehrer, Stephen Spielberg, August Wilson, Stephen Ambrose, Ken Burns, Garry Wills, Bill Moyers, Eudora Welty, Shelby Foote, Charles Kuralt, E.L. Doctorow, Daniel Boorstin, Quincy Jones, Don Henley, Arthur Schlesinger, Henry Louis Gates and Tom Wolfe.

The UI's Willard "Sandy" Boyd won the medal -- which was then known as the Frankel Prize -- for his work as director of the Field Museum in Chicago. Writers' Workshop alumna Rita Dove was honored in 1996.

The Iowa Writers' Workshop was the first creative-writing degree program at an American university, and it served as the blueprint for the many writing programs that now flourish on campuses in the United States and abroad.

Its alumni include many of America's most honored fiction writers and poets, including several U.S. Poet Laureates and numerous winners of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and virtually every other major American literary honor.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,