Endowed Professorships

The Peter Meinke Endowed Professorship in Creative Writing

The Dr. Peter Meinke Endowed Professorship in Creative WritingEstablished with a gift from Mrs. Martha Rudy Wallace, a member of the Eckerd College Board of Trustees since 1976 and one of the College's dearest friends, the Peter Meinke Endowed Professorship in Creative Writing was funded in honor of Professor Emeritus Peter Meinke -- Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at Eckerd College for 27 years; celebrated poet, essayist and fiction writer; recipient of numerous awards; and mentor to countless established poets and students of writing.

Mrs. Wallace's gift to establish the Meinke professorship follows many other contributions and projects she has supported throughout her tenure at Eckerd. The Wallace Boathouse on Eckerd's campus was dedicated February 26, 1999, in honor of Mrs. Wallace and her late husband, John. In addition to scholarship support, Mrs. Wallace -- a member of First Presbyterian Church of St. Petersburg since 1939 -- led the efforts to enhance and rename the Chapel after Billy O. Wireman, the College's first President. As a member of the Friends of the Library Board, she established a Library endowment to ensure the acquisition of new texts in perpetuity.

The only female Chairman of the Eckerd College Board of Trustees (1988-1989) and former Chairman of the Pinellas County School Board (1972-1977), Mrs. Wallace rightly deserves the honors of "First Lady of Education," Citizen of the Year by Pinellas County Council PTA and Educator of the Year by the Tampa Bay Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi. In 1978, she was named School Board Member of the Year by the American School Guidance Association. On April 2, 2006, the Girl Scouts of the Suncoast Council recognized Mrs. Wallace as a 2006 Woman of Distinction. Her community activism and loyal support of Eckerd lend an impressive historical perspective on the College and its support in the community and by the Presbyterian Church. 

Also a longtime servant leader at Eckerd College, Professor Sterling Watson '69, a member of the faculty for nearly 30 years, was named the first occupant of the Meinke Professorship. Professor Watson is the Director of the Eckerd College Creative Writing program; a Professor of Literature and Creative Writing; and the Co-Director, with Dennis Lehane '88, of Writers in Paradise, an annual conference with writing workshops offered on campus to resounding success. In 2006, Professor Watson received the John M. Bevan Teaching Excellence/Campus Leadership Award and The Lloyd W. Chapin Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Art -- the first Eckerd professor to be honored with these awards in the same year.

Eckerd College will forever be indebted to Mrs. Martha Rudy Wallace for all she has done for the College, including her establishment of the Meinke Professorship, which ensures that the study of Creative Writing, and Dr. Peter Meinke himself, will remain an integral part of education at Eckerd College.

Peter Meinke is a poet.

Peter Meinke is a gentle man with a soaring and creative mind.

Collections of his poetry and fiction have been published over the years -- many with delightful illustrations by his wife, Jeanne.

He has amused, entertained and inspired audiences with readings from his work.

He is a charming diplomat for Eckerd College wherever he goes.

First and foremost, he is an Eckerd College professor who has taught his students in the art of creative writing and mentored and nourished these aspiring authors.

Now it seems fitting that a Professorship in Creative Writing at Eckerd College be named for Peter Meinke, Professor Emeritus of our College.

Martha Rudy Wallace
Emerita Trustee