Mertens Endow Creative Writing Scholarship

Posted: February 23, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Mason President Alan Merten and his wife, Sally Merten, have created a new endowed scholarship in creative writing and named it in honor of her parents, G. Louise and Anthony J. Otto.

“My mother was a reader,” Mrs. Merten says. “She always had a book. Hemingway was one of her favorites, but she also liked Shirley Jackson’s work a lot. My mother liked and read a little bit of everyone, and she always was encouraging me. Mostly, this is for my mother, the reader, but it is in honor of both of them.”

In thanking the Mertens, William Miller, director of Mason’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing Program, said that this is the sort of connection that is so vital to writers today — the readers who learned by reading the writers of their parents’ day and are coming now to sustain today’s emerging talents.

“That cycle is vital to us all,” he says.

Thanks to the Mertens’ having made an additional gift to compensate for reduced earnings by the university’s investments, the initial award from the Otto Scholarship fund can be made soon.

“This will be a particular help as we all struggle to deal with these difficult times,” Miller says.

The Otto Scholarship is the fourth scholarship the Mertens have endowed.

The others are the Eric G. and Melissa H. Merten Endowed Scholarship, a merit-based scholarship for a College of Health and Human Services student accepted into the nursing program named in honor of the Mertens’ children; the Ruth A. and Gilbert E. Merten Endowed Scholarship, a merit-based scholarship for a School of Management student named in honor of Dr. Merten’s parents; and the Kathleen A. Lieder and Lloyd C. Fell Student Scholarship Endowment in Music Performance/Vocal Studies named in honor of friends of the Mertens.

The Otto Scholarship is the third new fellowship for the MFA Program. One was started by an anonymous donor that now is fully endowed; and one was set up by former English faculty member Michael Kelly and his wife, Robin.

The scholarships and fellowships mark a great beginning in the work of the program to support its students while they develop their writing talents, Miller says.

This article originally appeared in the English Department newsletter Between the Lines.

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