An anonymous donor has endowed a professorship for Steve Yarbrough of the English Department at California State University, Fresno. The endowment will allow Yarbrough to spend more of his time on his writing.
Starting next fall, Yarbrough will teach two courses and use the balance of his time for research and writing of his third novel. He will occupy the endowed professorship throughout his tenure at Fresno State.
“This is a perfect example of how the excellent work of an outstanding faculty member is recognized in the community,” said J. Michael Ortiz, provost and vice president for academic affairs. Ortiz said the donor, a local resident, expressed pleasure at being able to support a faculty member whose presence will add to the fine reputation of the College of Arts and Humanities and the university.
“This gift will allow Professor Yarbrough the opportunity to pursue his writing while continuing to provide excellent instruction to the students at Fresno State,” Ortiz said.
Yarbrough, who joined the faculty in 1988, has received several awards in recent years, including the California Book Award from the Commonwealth Club of California in 2000 and the John and Renee Grisham Visiting Southern Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi in 1999-2000.
After establishing a national reputation as a short-story writer, Yarbrough published his first novel, “The Oxygen Man” in 1999. His second, “Visible Spirits” will be released May 8 in the United States and Canada by Alfred A. Knopf and soon after in Britain and the Netherlands.
Yarbrough is working on his third novel, whose working title is “A Year to Forget.” It is set in 1943 and revolves around a German prisoner of war camp in Mississippi.
Yarbrough said he is honored to receive the endowed professorship and is especially pleased that it’s from a local donor.
“Somewhere out there, there’s somebody who cares a lot about the arts,” he said. “It makes me feel a lot better about being a writer, working here and living in Fresno.”