James Patterson offers scholarships to UI Writers’ Workshop

The best-selling author’s recent contribution to the workshop will cover most of the university’s expenses for its 14 recipients.

Best-selling author James Patterson signs copies of his recently released memoir, “James Patterson by James Patterson” inside the WK Kellogg Auditorium in Battle Creek, Michigan on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

A recent donation from best-selling author James Patterson will award 14 scholarships to University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop students and support scholarships for the next five years.

The scholarships will go to 11 fiction writers and three poets from the workshop’s graduate program.

In late September, Patterson announced that he had awarded $5.3 million in cash prizes to various literary programs across the country.

An additional $1.3 million will go to recipients of the James Patterson Writer Education Scholarship at Howard University and the new UI Writers’ Workshop Scholarships.

Funding was also $2 million for PEN America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting free speech, and $2 million for Scholastic’s “The United States of Readers,” a program supporting elementary and middle school students in Title 1 schools.

Patterson has donated money to increase access to reading and writing opportunities nationwide through the Patterson Family Foundation, which awards scholarships each year to 14 different colleges and universities across the country. country.

The recent donation is not Patterson’s first at the workshop. In 2016, Patterson offered five scholarships to graduate students of the program, worth $7,500 each for one year. According to a statement from the UI Foundation, Patterson added five more scholarships, “covering the tuition fees of ten writers” by 2017 the following year.

“I have dedicated my career to getting as many people as possible to love books and have long been a champion of fellow authors and aspiring writers around the world. I am proud of my partnership with the Writers’ Workshop of Iowa and I hope these fellowships will allow even more people to focus on publishing their work,” Patterson wrote in a statement provided to The Iowan Daily.

This year, Patterson will award the scholarships instead of scholarships, which automatically guarantees recipients in-state tuition that will be fully covered by the $10,000 scholarship.

Jane Van Voorhis, assistant vice president of main campus development at the UI Center for Advancement, said Patterson pledged nearly $1.2 million to the writers’ workshop for a total of five years.

This year and next, the scholarships will belong to the current 14 students, but Van Voorhis said the number of recipients is expected to increase over the next three years.

Van Voorhis said there was a need for financial support in the Writers’ Workshop.

“Choosing the life of a writer is inviting considerable uncertainty into your life…for some people that uncertainty is a greater risk than for others,” Van Voorhis said. “This type of scholarship can make the difference between whether or not someone can attend the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.”

RELATED: Lan Samantha Chang: an author and a woman of change

UI beats top universities for second place in writing in national college rankings

Since its inception in 1936 as the first creative writing degree program in the United States, the Writers’ Workshop has attracted students from around the world, claiming nationally and internationally acclaimed writers as alumni.

The studio’s website claims to be a home for faculty and graduates of “virtually every major literary award” and honors.

Flannery O’Connor, best known for her short stories, was a member of the studio class of 1948. O’Connor’s posthumously compiled works, Complete Storieswon the US National Book Award for Fiction in 1972.

More recently, Mo Yan, who participated in the workshop’s international writing program in 2004, won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2012.

While Van Voorhis said the diversity of a workshop acts as a strength that allows more human experiences to be represented in literary conversations, she said she recognizes the dynamic calls for more equity to ensure support. equal to all students.

“The Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa has [a] truly diverse student body on all dimensions… stylistic, aesthetic, racial, geographic, economic, socio-economic,” Van Voorhis said. “With greater socio-economic diversity comes a greater need for support.”

UI Writers’ Workshop Lan Samantha Chang said in a statement to The Iowan Daily that Patterson’s efforts to sustain interest in reading align with the mission of the Writers’ Workshop and its work to expand literary voices in the country.

“James Patterson’s generous donation to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop reinforces his deep and longstanding commitment to supporting students of all backgrounds, education levels and abilities,” Chang said. “He is a commendable human being, and we are honored to launch the James Patterson Scholarships.”

Van Voorhis said the James Patterson Fellowships will help support those at the heart of the UI community.

“I would say it’s writing in Iowa, and not just the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, but writing in Iowa that defines this institution both nationally and internationally. ..[our writers] start cultural conversations that are really important to who we are as human beings,” Van Voorhis said. “What we do changes hearts and minds.