Stephen King Honored With University Professorship

The University of Maine's English department announced that they received a grant to establish the Stephen E. King Chair in Literature. The $1 million grant was awarded by the Harold Alfond Foundation to honor the esteemed and revered author. This professorship is the university's first position within the English department that is named after someone.

The Alfond Foundation contributes funding to projects and schools throughout Maine that make gainful changes and improvements, particularly in education, health care, and youth programs.

"The Harold Alfond Foundation is delighted to make this grant in honor of Stephen King and in support of Maine's flagship university," Greg Powell said.

Powell is a chairman on the board of trustees from the Alfond Foundation.

"This chaired professorship is a tribute to Mr. King's outstanding literary accomplishments and his deep commitment to Maine," said Powell.

"This is someone who'll be a faculty member who will teach, who will work with, inspire and engage students, who will work with the graduate students. We offer the master's degree in our English Department. So this will be a member of our academic community," said Susan Hunter, president of the university.

This professorship will help the university find and appoint an exceptional English professor. The Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Emily Haddad, says they are seeking someone who isn't just a teacher but also a scholar of literature.

"[The position] would help the English department expand its role and influence in literature, creative writing and the humanities. King is an inspiration for students who are fascinated by literature and its contributions to human culture. The opportunity to study with the King Chair gives them one more reason to choose Umaine," Haddad said.

"It is now particularly rewarding to have a prestigious gift such as this that will inspire and influence current and future generations of readers and writers. [It is] an exceptional gift that honors the tremendous literary legacy of UMaine's most well-known and beloved alumnus," said Hunter.

"He's had a substantial body of work and, you know, is an inspiration and we see this as a way to really inspire the current and next generation of readers and writers," she said.

Mr. King, native and resident of Bangor, Maine, responded to news of the professorship in an email earlier this week.

"Needless to say, I'm delighted and a little awestruck. It's my alma mater, after all, and this is a high honor," he said.

The professorship is not the only award bestowed on the adored author recently. Last fall, President Obama presented Mr. King with the National Medal of Arts. The medal is the highest honors awarded to artists by the government. Mr. King received the award for being one of the world's best known authors.

Stephen King graduated from the University of Maine himself in 1970. He published the first of his best-selling novels just three years later.

"Stephen and Tabitha King have been generous supporters of their alma mater for many years," said Hunter.

Mr. King and his wife, Tabitha, have donated millions of dollars to the university. The money is divided up into scholarships, which are awarded to English majors and literature students each year. The scholarships are typically four-year awards in the amount of about $1,000, and issued in memory of Mr. King's old creative writing professor, Edward Holmes.

The University of Maine says they wish to formally celebrate the creation of their new English department faculty position. The plans for a celebration event will begin later on in the year.

The university plans to begin the search to fill this prestigious position this fall.

[Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images]