(From the Spring 2011 Oregon Stater)
By Gregg Kleiner
Patrick Stone, ’74, was just back from two tours of duty in Vietnam when he attended a lecture by OSU history professor William Appleman Williams in southern Oregon. Stone was so moved by the talk, he enrolled at Oregon State, where he credits the College of Liberal Arts with giving him a “sense of perspective” and an “intellectual confidence,” both of which have served the successful businessman, art collector and voracious reader well.
“Listening to Appleman Williams’ talk put my experiences in Vietnam into perspective and helped me understand how a nation like the United States uses and misuses its power, and that it’s not your fault,” said Stone, who was struggling to reenter society following the war. At OSU, he found mentors, inspiration and direction from professors Appleman Williams, Mark Sponenburgh (art), Richard Ross (anthropology), Paul Farber (history) and Stone’s roommate, fellow Vietnam vet and lifelong friend, Mike Collins, ’79.
Stone and his wife, Vicki, are now giving back to the College of Liberal Arts, choosing to endow what will be one of the top literary prizes in the nation for lifetime achievement and shine a bright spotlight on the university’s Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing. The 12-year-old program has a growing reputation for its emphasis on mentoring students, building community and reaching out to underserved populations-including at-risk youth and military veterans.
The new prize, tentatively named the Stone Literary Award, will honor a major American author who has created a body of critically acclaimed literary work and has been – in the tradition of creative writing at OSU – a dedicated mentor to succeeding generations of young writers.
The Stones’ $600,000 commitment will allow OSU to award the inaugural prize during the next academic year and will also provide longer-term funding through an endowment. The prize itself is expected to be up to $20,000, making it one of the most substantial awards for literary achievement in the country.
“When Vicki and I asked ourselves what we could do to draw attention to the College of Liberal Arts so it becomes a leading topic of conversation when you mention Oregon State, highlighting the Creative Writing Program made good sense because it’s such a gem,” said Stone. “The enthusiasm and commitment of the faculty to their students is infectious, but the program is such a secret, we wanted to draw more national attention to it by way of this prize.”
Recipients of the Stone Literary Award will give readings, master classes and lectures in both Corvallis and Portland, highlighting the value of creative communication in contemporary American culture. In conjunction with the prize, an “Everybody Reads” program will feature a selected book by the writer, with events at libraries, book clubs and independent bookstores.
“Oregon State has a long legacy of creative writing excellence, starting in the 1950s when Pulitzer Prize-winner Bernard Malamud and William Appleman Williams both taught here, and William Kittredge was a student,” said Larry Rodgers, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “The Stones’ vision and generosity will elevate the national prominence of our MFA Program and expose our students, faculty and all Oregonians to some of the most esteemed literary artists in the nation.”
Stone has had a successful 35-year career in the real estate industry. He is the retired CEO of Fidelity National Information Solutions and retired president and chief operating officer of Fidelity National Financial. Stone is currently president and CEO of Williston Financial Group based in Lake Oswego, Ore., and chairman of the board of The Stone Group, a commercial real estate brokerage, consulting and investment firm based in Austin, Texas. Stone, chair-elect of the OSU Foundation Board of Trustees, has served as a trustee since 2004 and also co-chairs The Campaign for OSU.
A PUBLISHED GROUP
OSU’s nationally-competitive MFA Program in Creative Writing attracts more than 100 applicants for 10 spots, and its faculty and alumni consistently win awards and publish widely.
“The national visibility of the Stone Award will make Oregon State a literary destination for talented young writers, and expose OSU students to the culture’s best critics, authors and thinkers,” said Marjorie Sandor, who directs the MFA Program. “We are grateful to Patrick and Vicki Stone for recognizing OSU’s literary legacy and potential to be among the top creative writing programs in the country.”
Recent and upcoming works by OSU Creative Writing Program faculty and alumni:
Inventing Montana (essays), Ted Leeson, 2010
Going to Seed: Dispatches from the Garden (prose poems), Charles Goodrich, ’02, 2010
The Late Interiors: A Life Under Construction (memoir), Marjorie Sandor, May 2011
The Oregon Experiment (novel), Keith Scribner, June 2011
Just One Catch: A Biography of Joseph Heller, Tracy Daugherty, August 2011
Holding Lies (novel),John Larison, ’07, August 2011
Aftermath (stories), Scott Nadelson, ’00, September 2011