Donors play an important role in student and institutional successes. New facilities, expanding research opportunities and scholarships are creating new pathways for excellence. Below are a few of our favorite examples.
“Holy Cross will grow like a mighty tree and constantly shoot forth new limbs and branches, which will be nourished by the same life-giving sap.” — Blessed Basil Moreau
in the resurrection of Jesus,
you transform the dead wood of the Cross
into the tree of new life,
making the Cross a symbol of hope.
Help us to always live as people of Hope.
When we face struggles in our lives—
frustrations with our work,
misunderstandings with those we love,
lapses in our devotion,
difficulties with forgiveness—
may we see these as Crosses
that can become trees of life
through your life-giving Spirit.
May hope form the lives of our students
as they prepare to make a difference in our world.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord.
Oscar Casares. Anne Lamott. Terrance Hayes. These are just a few of the award-winning contemporary writers to whom the university and greater Austin communities have been introduced through The Marcia Kinsey Visiting Writers Series at St. Edward’s. Since 1994, the university’s Visiting Writers Series (named after Marcia D. Kinsey in 2012, a beloved university English professor and dean of the School of Humanities who passed away in March of that year) has brought two or three notable authors to campus each year. These writers read from their work and talk about their writing in free public events, as well as interact with students in the classroom.
The Marcia Kinsey Visiting Writers Series exposes students to contemporary writers and challenges them to see modern-day literature in new ways, says Mary Helen Specht, assistant professor of English Writing and Rhetoric, Creative Writing at St. Edward’s and current director of the series.
When the visiting authors meet with students in class, they talk about the craft of writing, their own failures and successes, and how they got to be where they are today. Often they read students’ work and critique it. The series is life-changing for many students, says Carrie Fountain, an award-winning poet, Writer-in-Residence at St. Edward’s and former director of the series. “The students are so invested. They are able to see the writers as real people, learn from them, and understand how writing as a career path can be possible.”
The Marcia Kinsey Visiting Writers Series offers invaluable in-person exposure to ‘real-life writers’ other than professors says Rebekah J. Morton ’15, an English Writing and Rhetoric major at St. Edward’s. “This not only gives insight to the writing life and writing advice, but also facilitates seeing writing out of a classroom context, which is very inspiring,” she says. Recent visiting writers, including novelist Elizabeth McCracken and poet Terrance Hayes, visited with students during class, answered questions in a more intimate setting and talked about their journeys as writers. “I was able to discuss their writing processes and philosophies with them, as well as to hear their writing in their own voice, with their own introductions and explanations for it. This made our discussions and their readings really relevant to me as a writer,” Rebekah adds.
Stephanie Espinosa ’15, also a St. Edward’s English Writing and Rhetoric major, credits The Marcia Kinsey Visiting Writers Series and Terrance Hayes for helping her to develop her own individual writing style and persona, and to become more self-expressed as a writer. “Terrance Hayes helped me to find what I want to write for others to read, to find a voice for myself,” Stephanie says. “I saw how he can bring something so personal to the table, and I learned that I, too, can get personal and not limit myself, that I can invite readers into my own story.”
Carrie says that The Marcia Kinsey Visiting Writers Series is not only great for students, but it is important for St. Edward’s University and the local writing community. “It is a jewel in Austin,” she says. “It elevates the university as an intellectual center for the Austin literary community.” The series connects local writers with St. Edward’s and our students, Mary Helen adds. “The Visiting Writers Series introduces students to the vibrant writing community outside of class and encourages them to be a part of it,” Mary Helen says. “The series fosters the spark and interest in pursuing writing that started here, and enriches their lives.”
The Marcia Kinsey Visiting Writers Series rivals other visiting writers series across the country, Carrie says, but it needs to be better funded. The St. Edward’s series relies on donor funding to bring in writers, and only has about a $4,000 budget per year. One of the series’ main contributors is Marcia’s husband, Richard. “Marcia took such delight in bringing writers, students, faculty and the community together to share the writing life. Donating to the series is a wonderful way to remember her and honor her vision.”
Carrie says that the university hasn’t been able to get some of the most sought-after writers or international authors because the writers’ fees and costs to bring them to campus are too high. “For $20,000 a year, we could get some of the best writers in the country here,” she says. “That kind of funding would open up a world of possibility for The Marcia Kinsey Visiting Writers Series and the university, and a world of opportunity for students.”
If you are interested in supporting The Marcia Kinsey Visiting Writers Series, please contact Chris Gallegos, director of Leadership Giving, at 512-448-8407 or chrismg [at] stedwards.edu.