Focus on Philanthropy

on May 14 | in Giving, Homepage | by


New graduate fellowships honor alumna’s family

Susan Gager and John Jackson

Susan Gager and John Jackson

Since its creation more than 50 years ago, the creative writing program has nurtured and encouraged some of the finest writers in the nation.

To continue helping writers find their way at Hollins, Susan Gager Jackson ’68 and John Jackson have endowed the Gager Family Fellowships through a $1 million gift from the Liana Family Foundation. The fellowships will provide tuition assistance and stipends for graduate students in the M.F.A. in creative writing program.

The Jacksons actively encourage and support writers and writing careers through their philanthropic Liana Foundation. In 2008, the Jacksons gave Hollins $5 million to found the Jackson Center for Creative Writing.

Director of the center Thorpe Moeckel, associate professor of English, says of the new fellowships: “It’s huge. It’s a game changer. Students will have more time to write, instead of working to pay the bills.” He said that the admitted students this spring are saying yes to Hollins immediately, whereas in the past many students would wait to compare offers from other schools to Hollins. “The fellowships will allow our students to take a break from the real world and just focus on their writing.”

The Gager Family Fellowships honor Susan’s family and their history of assisting writers. Susan is a poet in her own right, and has written Through a Gate of Trees: Poems and the chapbook All the Light in Between. 



Deserving students ought to have an education

Bill and Betsy Moore Johnston

Bill and Betsy Moore Johnston

Trustee Bill Johnston and Betsy Moore Johnston ’62 recognize that family emergencies can weigh heavily on a student, or even stop her education in its tracks. The death of a parent, a parent’s illness or job loss, or another catastrophic event can severely strain a family’s finances.

“During the economic downturn, many parents lost their jobs and their children could not continue their education,” Betsy says. “We want a scholarship that will enable a student to continue at Hollins.”

Together, the Johnstons have created the Johnston Family Scholarship at Hollins to meet that exact purpose. “This is part of our whole desire to see deserving students get their educations,” Bill notes. The scholarship will provide tuition assistance to students who face a family emergency.

“We feel it would be tragic for a student to have to stop her education just because funds have run out,” Betsy explains. The scholarship fund is available to be awarded to any student facing a crisis.

Both Johnstons have close ties with Betsy’s alma mater. She has been a dedicated volunteer, and Bill has served multiple terms as a trustee.



Following in the footsteps of Goodnight Moon



Before there was an official creative writing program at Hollins, there was Margaret Wise Brown ’32. She is one of our most recognized and widely read writers to this day, even though she died in 1952. Brown wrote dozens of children’s classics, including The Runaway Bunny and the quintessential bedtime story, Goodnight Moon. Brown was one of the first authors to write specifically for children ages two to five, and she developed the concept of the durable board book.

James Rockefeller, Brown’s fiancé at the time of her death, has given Hollins an endowed fund to create the Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature. He established the award to link Brown’s name permanently with her alma mater and to honor her significance to the field.

To be presented annually beginning in 2016, the Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature will recognize the author of the best text for a picture book published during the previous year. Winners will be given a $1,000 cash prize, an engraved bronze medal, and an invitation to accept the award and present a reading on campus during the summer session of Hollins’ graduate program in children’s literature.

To learn more about the award, visit



Renamed in memory of R. Lowell Wine



A group of alumnae who majored in statistics have joined together to honor the memory of R. Lowell Wine, professor emeritus of statistics. Wine’s son and daughter-in-law, J. David and Mary Ann, and the alumnae have provided the funding to name the new Center for Learning Excellence (CLE) in memory of Wine.

Currently housed on the first floor of East, the CLE (consisting of the Writing Center and the Quantitative Reasoning Center) will move to the Wyndham Robertson Library. The new center will include a classroom and areas for tutoring, public speaking and oral presentation training, and a place for students to engage in Skype interviews with potential employers.

Moving the CLE from a residence hall to the academic heart of campus will raise its visibility, while honoring Wine’s tenure and commitment to decades of students. In addition to naming the CLE for Wine, the funds will help Hollins meet the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation challenge. The foundation has challenged Hollins to raise $400,000 for capital projects by May 2015 to receive a $200,000 grant.

Wine established the statistics department at Hollins in 1957, at that time the only women’s college in the nation with a separate statistics department. An adventurous soul, Wine traveled extensively, and his travelogue slideshows were popular events on campus. He taught at Hollins until his retirement in 1985 and retained close ties with the university until his death in 2014.


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