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University of Iowa News Release

May 6, 2005

Robinson Is Named F. Wendell Miller Professor In Iowa Writers' Workshop

Marilynne Robinson has been named F. Wendell Miller Professor in the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. The appointment was announced by Linda Maxson, dean of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

"The Miller professorship recognizes the distinction Marilynne Robinson has achieved through her contributions to American letters," Maxson said. "It also recognizes her skill as teacher and mentor of the talented students attracted to the Writers' Workshop."

Robinson, who joined the UI faculty in 1991, won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2005 for her epistolary novel "Gilead." Her earlier novel, "Housekeeping," won the PEN/Hemingway Award in 1981 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction.

In addition to her award-winning novels, Robinson has published two important works of non-fiction that place her in the front rank of modern essayists: "The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought" (1998) and "Mother Country: Britain, the Welfare State and Nuclear Pollution" (1989), which was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her essays and book reviews have appeared in many journals, including Harper's, the Paris Review and the New York Times Book Review.

Robinson is a past recipient of a Strauss Living, awarded by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is the only UI faculty member to have received this honor. The Strauss Living provides a five-year stipend that frees a writer from other obligations in order to complete literary projects. A devoted teacher, Robinson gave up the final three years of the Strauss Living in order to return to the classroom.

She has said of her role in the Writers' Workshop, "I love teaching. I can't tell you how much I have learned from it. And the workshop is entirely shaped around respect for writing and for writers, both faculty and students. It is as fruitful as it is for very good reasons."

Previous appointees to Miller professorships in the Writers' Workshop were Pulitzer Prize winners Jorie Graham and James Alan McPherson, and the late director of the workshop, Frank Conroy.

Miller professorships -- five-year renewable appointments -- are named for F. Wendell Miller, an attorney and farm manager from Rockwell City 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.

The Writers' Workshop is an academic unit of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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