“It is my hope and expectation that the Presidential Professorship will help demonstrate that the University of Nebraska is one great statewide institution, with exceptional talent and resources available among the campuses and throughout the state,” Milliken said. “No one is a more fitting selection as the first Presidential Professor than Ted Kooser. He is earning well-deserved national recognition for his life’s artistic work and is making poetry more accessible to a wide range of readers while bringing extraordinarily positive attention to the university and the State of Nebraska.”
Milliken said he intends to name one outstanding faculty member as Presidential Professor each year. Upon completion of their year of service, Presidential Professors will retain the title throughout their careers at the university.
Kooser’s appointment will commence at the beginning of the fall semester. Support for the Presidential Professorship is made possible by private donations to the President’s Excellence Fund at the University of Nebraska Foundation.
In April 2005, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington appointed Kooser to serve a second term as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, during the same week that he received the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for poetry for his book, “Delights and Shadows” (2004). The author of ten collections of poetry, Kooser was born in Ames, Iowa, in 1939. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Iowa State University in 1962 and his master’s degree at the University of Nebraska in 1968.
Kooser’s other collections of poetry include “Sure Signs” (1980), which received the Society of Midland Authors Prize for the best book of poetry by a Midwestern writer published in that year; “One World at a Time” (1985); “Weather Central” (1994); and “Winter Morning Walks: One Hundred Postcards to Jim Harrison” (2000), winner of the 2001 Nebraska Book Award for Poetry. A book of his essays, “Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps” (2002), won the Nebraska Book Award for Nonfiction in 2003. The book was also chosen as the Best Book Written by a Midwestern Writer for 2002 by Friends of American Writers, and it won the Gold Award for Autobiography in ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Awards.
Kooser is also the author, with his longtime friend Jim Harrison, of “Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry” (2003), for which the two poets received the 2003 Award for Poetry from the Society of Midland Authors.
Among Kooser’s other awards and honors are two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, the Pushcart Prize, the Stanley Kunitz Prize, the James Boatwright Prize and a Merit Award from the Nebraska Arts Council.