ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine announced Tuesday it will establish a new endowed professorship in honor of its most famous alumnus — horror author Stephen King.
The Stephen E. King Chair in Literature, funded through a $1 million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation, will support a faculty post in the university’s English department. A search to fill the new position is expected this fall.
“Stephen and Tabitha King have been generous supporters of their alma mater for many years,” UMaine President Susan Hunter said in a news release. “It is now particularly rewarding to have a prestigious gift such as this that will inspire and influence current and future generations of readers and writers.”
King graduated from UMaine in 1970 with an English degree. Three years later, he published his first novel, “Carrie.” Since then, he’s written 54 novels, six nonfiction books and nearly 200 short stories. In November 2015, King was awarded a National Medal of Arts, recognizing his contributions to literature.
“Needless to say, I’m delighted and a little awestruck. It’s my alma mater, after all, and this is a high honor,” King said in an email.
UMaine hopes the newly endowed professorship will allow it to recruit an accomplished “teacher and a scholar of literature,” according to College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Emily Haddad. She said the position would help the English department expand its role and influence in literature, creative writing and the humanities.
“King is an inspiration for students who are fascinated by literature and its contributions to human culture,” Haddad said. “The opportunity to study with the King Chair gives them one more reason to choose UMaine.”
An event celebrating the new post will be planned later this year, according to the university.
Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.