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Media contact: Molly Brown, 541-737-3602
CORVALLIS, Ore. — Oregon State University has received a gift from an alumnus that establishes what will be one of the top literary prizes in the nation and will bring attention to the university’s 12-year-old MFA Program in Creative Writing.
The Stone Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement will honor a major American author who has created a body of critically acclaimed literary work and has been—in the tradition of creative writing at OSU—a dedicated mentor to succeeding generations of young writers.
The Stones’ $600,000 commitment will allow OSU to award the inaugural prize during the next academic year and will also provide longer-term funding through an endowment. The prize itself is expected to be up to $20,000, making it one of the most substantial awards for literary achievement in the country.
Patrick F. Stone and his wife, Vicki, established the prize to spotlight what they see as one of OSU’s best kept secrets: the MFA Program in Creative Writing, which has a growing reputation for its emphasis on mentoring students, building community and reaching out to underserved populations—including at-risk youth and military veterans.
“When Vicki and I asked ourselves what we could do to draw attention to the College of Liberal Arts so it becomes a leading topic of conversation when you mention Oregon State, highlighting the Creative Writing Program made good sense because it’s such a gem,” said Stone, who has supported OSU in a wide range of areas. “The enthusiasm and commitment of the faculty to their students is infectious, but the program is such a secret, we wanted to draw more national attention to it by way of this prize.”
Recipients of the Stone Literary Award will give readings, master classes and lectures in both Corvallis and Portland, highlighting the value of creative communication in contemporary American culture. In conjunction with the prize, an “Everybody Reads” program will feature a selected book by the writer, with events at libraries, book clubs and independent bookstores.
“Oregon State has a long legacy of creative writing excellence, starting in the 1950s when Pulitzer Prize-winner Bernard Malamud and William Appleman Williams both taught here, and William Kittredge was a student,” said Larry Rodgers, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “The Stones’ vision and generosity will elevate the national prominence of our MFA Program and expose our students, faculty and all Oregonians to some of the most esteemed literary artists in the nation.”
Stone grew up in the Badlands of North Dakota, served two tours in the Vietnam War then enrolled at OSU after hearing a lecture by renowned OSU history professor William Appleman Williams. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history in 1974 and credits the College of Liberal Arts with giving him the “intellectual confidence” and “sense of perspective” that have served him well, professionally and personally.
Stone has had a successful 35-year career in the real estate industry. He is the retired CEO of Fidelity National Information Solutions and retired president and chief operating officer of Fidelity National Financial. Stone is currently president and CEO of Williston Financial Group based in Lake Oswego, Ore., and chairman of the board of The Stone Group, a commercial real estate brokerage, consulting and investment firm based in Austin, Texas. Stone, chair-elect of the OSU Foundation Board of Trustees, has served as a trustee since 2004 and also co-chairs The Campaign for OSU.
OSU’s nationally-competitive MFA Program attracts more than a hundred applicants annually for nine spots, and its faculty and alumni consistently win awards and publish widely. Three of the program’s fiction faculty, Marjorie Sandor, Tracy Daugherty and Keith Scribner, have new books coming out this summer. Alumni and faculty including John Larison, Ted Leeson, Scott Nadelson and Charles Goodrich have also recently published collections of essays, short stories and poetry.
The national visibility of the Stone Award will make Oregon State a literary destination for talented young writers, and expose OSU students to the culture’s best critics, authors and thinkers,” said Marjorie Sandor, who directs the MFA Program. “We are grateful to Patrick and Vicki Stone for recognizing OSU’s literary legacy and potential to be among the top creative writing programs in the country.”
The inaugural recipient of the Stone Literary Award will be announced later this year, according to Sandor, with events scheduled for Corvallis on May 9, 2012, and for Portland on May 10, 2012.
The Stones’ gift is part of The Campaign for OSU, the university's first comprehensive fundraising initiative. Guided by OSU's strategic plan, the campaign seeks $850 million to provide opportunities for students, strengthen the Oregon economy and conduct research that changes the world. Donors have committed more than $700 million to date.