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Bernard Malamud gift will bolster writing program at OSU

A black and white photo of a man in a suit
Oregon State University
Bernard Malamud is known as one of the most influential post-World War II American Jewish writers. He taught at OSU from 1949-1961.

The family of an award-winning author who formerly taught at Oregon State University has established a fund to support students at the Corvallis campus who study writing.

Bernard Malamud taught at OSU from 1949 to 1961. While there, he won a National Book Award.

He went on to win a second National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for “The Fixer”. OSU School of Writing, Literature, and Film director Tim Jensen said Malamud’s legacy is emblematic of what they do at the college.

“What makes our programs unique at Oregon State and how this fund intersects with it, is we’re really focused on experiential learning in and out of the classroom,” he said. “And I think that’s really important with the humanities and the Malamud family understands that and this gift is going to help us advance those efforts.”

The $850,000 gift will establish an endowed faculty position fund, add to an existing scholarship, and create a visiting writer endowment.

A man sits in a chair with a cat on his lap
Oregon State University
Bernard Malamud's first novel, "The Natural", was later adapted into a film staring Robert Redford. He won his first National Book Award while he was teaching at OSU for his short story collection "The Magic Barrel."

Jensen said the goal is for the visiting writer to spend time with students and faculty and engage with them. That’s something that Malamud’s daughter Janna wanted to make sure was written into the program.

“So, this is not an instance where you come to town, you give a lecture, then you leave,” he said. “This is really a chance to engage with high-profile writers.”

Jensen told KLCC the school hopes to bring the first Malamud Distinguished Writer to campus in 2025.

They’ll be hosted at the new Patricia Valian Reser Center for the Arts, or PRAx.

Jensen said Malamud’s daughter Janna Malamud wanted visiting writers who will help students encounter emotional truths that can be found, “in literature, in fiction, in poetry, in drama, in creative nonfiction. For her this was the legacy of her father as an author, his unique ability to voice emotional truth.”

There will also be a new Malamud Award which will be given every other year in rotation with the existing Stone Award For Literary Achievement which this year is going to nature writer Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.