The Rayburn and Nancy Spann Watkins Endowed Visiting Professorship was occupied by Mr. Martin Roper during 2012-2013. In the Department of English and
Philosophy, the Comprehensive University Endowment Trust Fund primarily funds the
Nancy and Rayburn Watkins Endowed Professorship in Creative Writing, which brings
a visiting writer to campus for up to three years. During his time at Murray State,
Professor Roper has completed a novel, The Typewriter, to be published by Henry Holt, and has begun a new, untitled novel. Professor Roper
also presented to faculty as part of the Provost’s Brownbag Luncheon series and gave
a public reading. He also created the Racer Fiction Writer of the Year contest; he
will again fund and judge the contest in Fall 2013.
The new Watkins Chair, beginning Fall 2013, is Riley Hanick. Mr. Hanick, whose M.F.A. in Nonfiction Writing is from the University Iowa, has published essays in Best American Essays, Sonora Review, Seneca Review, and Eyeshot. His book-length essay Gravel Ends is forthcoming from Sarabande Books.
Additional funding support to bring a writer to campus as an endowed professor has helped the Department of English and Philosophy continue its excellent undergraduate program in creative writing while building the low-residency M.F.A. in Creative Writing. The number of M.F.A. students actively enrolled has increased from 22 in 2006 to 30 in Spring 2013. Enrollment in the undergraduate creative writing program totaled 57 in Spring 2013, with an additional 25 students minoring in creative writing. The department continues to publish two literary magazines: the undergraduate Notations and the professional New Madrid.