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Hollins Receives $5 Million Gift to Establish Creative Writing Center

Hollins alumna Susan Gager Jackson and her husband, John Jackson, have pledged $5 million to create the Jackson Center for Creative Writing at the university.

President Nancy Gray announced the gift at the school’s annual Reunion celebration, held May 30 – June 1. Susan Jackson is a member of Hollins’ Class of 1968, which marked its 40th anniversary during the event.

“Hollins has one of the finest creative writing programs in the country, and this wonderful gift from the Jacksons will enable us to recruit and retain the most promising students and faculty,” said Gray. “The Jackson Center for Creative Writing will enhance the quality and visibility of the program for years to come.”

The $5 million endowment will sustain the following initiatives:

  • The Susan Gager Jackson Endowed Chair in Creative Writing, which will recognize the accomplishments of gifted scholars and writers on the Hollins faculty. The new chair could be rotated among tenured faculty who teach creative writing or awarded to a new faculty member.

  • The Jackson Fellowship in Creative Writing, designated for students who are completing the master of fine arts (MFA) program in creative writing. The fellowship will provide full or partial tuition assistance and could also support stipends for summer research and writing, conference attendance, and other scholarly activities associated with pursuing the MFA.

  • The Susan Gager Jackson Scholarship, which will honor outstanding undergraduate students who are pursuing a degree in English and creative writing.

  • The Jackson Fund for Creative Writing, a permanent endowment supporting publicity and other activities to heighten visibility of the undergraduate and graduate programs comprising the Jackson Center for Creative Writing. “We envision using this endowment to raise awareness of both new and existing programs,” said Gray, including the Louis D. Rubin, Jr., Writer-in-Residence, the university’s annual Literary Festival, the Jackson Poetry Readings, and the recently created Dee Hull Everist Visiting Speakers Series.

Susan and John Jackson reside in Far Hills, New Jersey, and through their philanthropic Liana Foundation they actively encourage writers and writing careers. At Hollins, the Jackson Poetry Endowment brings acclaimed authors to campus to read from their works. On a national level, they launched the Jackson Poetry Award in 2007 to recognize exceptional but largely unheralded writers.  Susan Jackson is herself a poet and is the author of Through a Gate of Trees: Poems, published last year.

Over the past 50 years Hollins’ undergraduate and graduate programs in English and creative writing have received national recognition and produced three Pulitzer Prize winners: Natasha Trethewey, Annie Dillard, and Henry Taylor. Another graduate, Kiran Desai, won both the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle fiction award.