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Appointments to Richard R. Hallin Professorship in Natural Sciences, Peter Meinke Professorship in Creative Writing Announced

posted on 05/21/2008

Recent gifts to Eckerd's capital campaign, "Transformations: The Campaign for Eckerd College," have resulted in two new endowed professorships and appointments, adding to the growing list of endowed professorships at the College. They were announced by Dr. Donald R. Eastman III, President of Eckerd College, at the 45th Commencement on May 18, 2008.


Peter Meylan

Professor Peter Meylan was appointed the first occupant of the Richard R. Hallin Endowed Professorship in Natural Sciences, established by Trustee Emeritus Jeff Fortune and his wife, Sherry. First elected to the Board of Trustees in 1990, Mr. Fortune has served continuously on the Board for 18 years.

This professorship is named in honor of Emeritus Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Richard R. Hallin, who began his Eckerd career as Provost in 1975, became Dean of Faculty and, from 1979 to 2004, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. He continues to assist the College by identifying and coaching student candidates for national scholarship and fellowship awards for undergraduate and post-graduate study.

Peter Meylan joined the Eckerd College faculty as Visiting Assistant Professor in the Collegium of Natural Sciences in September 1989. He received his Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Florida. He has risen through the faculty ranks to Professor of Biology and Marine Science.

Professor Meylan has broad interests in the evolutionary history, ecology, and conservation biology of amphibians and reptiles. He has published on a variety of topics including the paleontology, phylogenetics, ecology, and conservation biology of lizards, snakes, and mostly, turtles. Current research includes two sea turtle projects: an investigation of the ecology and migrations of sea turtles of Bocas del Toro Province, Panama (funded by the Wildlife Conservation Society and SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund); and the Bermuda Turtle Project, a cooperative project with the Bermuda Aquarium and the Caribbean Conservation Corporation.

Closer to home, Professor Meylan works with Eckerd College students, including the Eckerd Herpetology Club, on studies of freshwater turtles of the Rainbow River, a spring near Dunnellon, Florida. Current paleontology and phylogeny of reptiles studies include a revision of three extinct side-necked turtle families with colleagues from the American Museum of Natural History in New York, a phylogenetic study of African side-necks with an Eckerd student, and studies of an extinct pig-nosed turtle and an extinct New World pond turtle.

Many of Professor Meylan's students have presented at professional meetings and conferences and have been the recipients of Hollings, Goldwater and Fulbright scholarships and National Science Foundation fellowships.

The establishment of the Hallin Chair in Natural Sciences will also make it possible for the College to hire a new faculty member in molecular biology.


Sterling Watson

Professor Sterling Watson was appointed the first occupant of the Peter Meinke Endowed Professorship in Creative Writing, established through a gift by Trustee Emerita Martha Rudy Wallace matched by funds from the Collier Challenge program. Mrs. Wallace has served continuously on the Board of Trustees since 1976.

This professorship is named to honor Professor Emeritus of Literature Peter Meinke, who taught literature and creative writing at Eckerd College for 27 years and served as the Director of the Eckerd College Writing Workshop until 1993. A guest lecturer in current creative writing courses, Professor Meinke was an informal writing adviser to Professor Watson.

Sterling Watson graduated from Eckerd, then Florida Presbyterian College, in 1969. He earned his Master's degree at the University of Florida and returned to teach at Eckerd in 1978. A fiction and screenwriter, he is Professor of Literature and Creative Writing, Director of Eckerd's Creative Writing Program, and Co-director of the annual Writers in Paradise writers' conference. He mentored and taught novelist Dennis Lehane '88, his fellow Co-director of Writers in Paradise.

Professor Watson's main professional interests are fiction, play and screenwriting, American, British and European short and long fiction, and the theatre. He served for five years as the fiction editor of The Florida Quarterly, and taught secondary English and later fiction writing at Raiford Prison.

He is the author of five novels, Weep No More My Brother (nominated for the Rosenthal Award, National Academy Institute of Arts and Letters), The Calling, Blind Tongues, Deadly Sweet, (nominated for the 1995 Edgar Award and for the Hammett Prize), and Sweet Dream Baby (nominated for the National Book Award). He has co-authored several screenplays, two of them based on his novels, one with Lehane.

The recipient of four Florida Fine Arts Council grants for fiction writing and a former fellow of The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and of The MacDowell Colony, his short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, The Fiction Quarterly, The Michigan Quarterly Review, and The Southern Review.

Professor Watson is married to Kathryn J. Watson '69, Associate Dean for Faculty Development, Special Assistant to the President for Academic Affairs, and Professor of Education. They are the parents of Megan Watson Kramer '98, Director of Client Relations for Eckerd's Leadership Development Institute.

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