The Rayburn and Nancy Spann Watkins Endowed Visiting Professorship was occupied by Mr. Riley Hannick from 2013 to 2016. 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 Hanick published a book-length essay, Gravel Ends, from Sarabande Books, and has begun a new, untitled novel. Professor Hanick also gave public readings, served as fiction editor of New Madrid, and taught courses in creative non-fiction and creative writing.
The new Watkins Chair, beginning Fall 2016, is Allen Wier. Mr. Wier comes to Murray State with a distinguished record of publishing fiction and teaching creative writing. Since earning his Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Bowling Green University, Mr. Wier has published four novels — Blanco, Departing as Air, A Place for Outlaws and Tehano— and a collection of short stories, Things About to Disappear. Mr. Wier’s latest publication is a forthcoming collection of stories, Late Night, Early Morning, from the University of Tennessee press.
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 was 28 in Spring 2016. Enrollment in the undergraduate creative writing program totaled 40 in Spring 2016, with an additional 22 students minoring in creative writing. The department continues to publish two literary magazines: the undergraduate Notations and the professional New Madrid.