Thanks to a generous grant from Dr. Tony Foster ('73) and his wife Linda Nemec Foster ('72), Aquinas College inaugurated an annual series of readings by well-known authors in 1997. The idea for funding the series started about 1992 when Linda, herself a published and well-known poet, remembered her student days at Aquinas and thought how much she would have benefitted from having writers visit campus.
"When I was a student at Aquinas, even though I was not an English major, I loved and read literature. One thing I missed was having a visiting writers series like my friends at large state universities had," Linda reminisces. "About five years ago, Tony and I began discussing whether we could fund a series at Aquinas ourselves, and this year we decided to implement our plan."
The series will eventually be funded completely by income from an endowment the Fosters are establishing. One major goal of the Fosters was to make the series financially independent so it could be free and open to the public. "We felt that the whole city of Grand Rapids, being the second largest city in the state, should have this sort of experience available. In addition to the Aquinas community, we want this series to benefit the community at large," Linda explains. "We are really pleased to be able to do this."
The Aquinas College Contemporary Writers Series will be coordinated by a steering committee consisting of members of the Aquinas staff and faculty representing the Friends of the Grace Hauenstein Library, the English Department, and the Student Activities Department. In addition to doing public readings, visiting writers will meet with creative writing students in workshops and will offer readings for students in the college's first and second year core courses.