University of Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program Receives $500,000 Donation to Build Program Endowment

Gift is from the Kyle J. and Sharon Krause Family Foundation
Sunday, March 26, 2017

john D'Agata
Program director and
Professor John D'Agata

The University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program (NWP) has received a $500,000 donation from the Kyle J. and Sharon Krause Family Foundation through the University of Iowa Foundation to support the program’s efforts in training and educating the country’s most promising young writers. It is the largest gift to date that the program has received.

The donation will significantly expand the program’s endowment fund. Income generated from the endowment will be used to support the education, writing, and teaching of the program’s students.

"Much of the work of the program is the product of rigorous and costly fieldwork, travel, and immersion," said second-year NWP graduate student Micah Fields. "This generous donation will sustain the Nonfiction Writing Program's long tradition of innovation within the genre by providing necessary funding for research and writing."

The gift will also establish the Krause Series in Contemporary Nonfiction, a reading series that will help the NWP continue to bring University of Iowa students together for study with the most innovative and relevant nonfiction writers working today.

"This gift is an exciting reminder that the literary essay is having a resurgence as a well-regarded art form," said first-year NWP graduate student Nicolás Medina Mora, who came to study in the program from Mexico after receiving that country’s most prestigious literary award for young writers. "As a student of the genre, I couldn't be more grateful."  

The NWP will rename its annual Essay Prize as the Krause Prize, in honor of the Krause family. Founded in 2006, the Essay Prize celebrates the best literary essay published in the English language each year. Entrants are critically reviewed and judged by a panel of nonfiction graduate and undergraduate students. Past recipients of the award include Claudia Rankine, Oliver Sacks, David Rakoff, Sophie Calle, and Mary Ruefle.

Nonfiction Writing Program Director John D'Agata hailed the Krause family's generosity, saying they serve as an example of the impact that private gifts can have on the mission of a public institution. 

“This gift is a wonderful reminder that Iowans remain firmly committed to the excellence and value of its state universities, and take pride in the rich legacy of our writing programs at the University of Iowa,” says D’Agata. “On behalf of our students, faculty and alumni, I extend my sincerest gratitude to Kyle and Sharon Krause and their family for their generosity.”

Founded in 1976, the Nonfiction Writing Program is regularly ranked the top graduate program for nonfiction writing in America. In recent years its alumni have won some of the most prestigious awards in literature, including the National Book Critics Circle Award, Whiting Foundation Fellowships, Guggenheim Fellowships, Rona Jaffe Fellowships, National Magazine Awards, and the MacArthur "Genius" Grant. 

D'Agata notes that the gift serves as an "encouraging vote of confidence" for its current graduate and undergraduate students, who, besides regularly publishing in venues such as The New Yorker, Rolling Stone and Harper's magazine, often give back by organizing free writing classes each year for local community members and students, beyond the formal classes they teach at the university. 

“They’re a beautifully generous group of students,” D’Agata adds. “I couldn’t be prouder of the work they do in both their writing and in the world. They deserve this.”

The UI Foundation is the preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the UI, and its mission is to promote the UI’s commitment to excellence through engagement and philanthropy. For more information about the UI foundation, visit the UI Foundation website.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa is a comprehensive college offering 73 majors in the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. More than 17,000 undergraduate and 1,900 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by professors at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all UI undergraduates through the General Education Program, and confers about 70 percent of the UI's bachelor's degrees each academic year.