Black Mountain Institute Received $20 Million


Manuel Gonzales reads as part of the Black Mountain Institute Emerging Writers Series | Photo by Aaron Mayes/UNLV Photo Services

Wonderful news for lovers of the written word: UNLV’s literary center, Black Mountain Institute, received an epic $20 million gift March 19 from the Rogers Foundation. Combined with the foundation’s $10 million donation in 2013, this latest offering will turbocharge the university’s literary might. For professors Douglas A. Unger and Richard M. Wiley, co-founders of UNLV’s master of fine arts in creative writing program, the gift means the culmination of a long journey. “When I came here 24 years ago and [Wiley] came here 26 years ago, something like this was a dream, possibly,” Unger says. “Possibly something like this could happen when we invented the program. And now it has—beyond anybody’s expectations.”

Planned upgrades read like a wish list for bibliophiles: additional faculty and graduate assistants; more funding for students, academic fellows, translations and the literary magazine Witness; a reinvigorated asylum program for international writers; a biennial $50,000 writing prize and Contrarian Lecture; a reading room, and more. “It reaches to every level of our community. No one is excluded, and everything rises,” poet and professor Donald Revell says. “It’s been so well thought out and so generously thought out. I’ve never seen a gift that has so much intelligence behind it. It’s really cool. I know that’s a silly word to use, but it is cool.”

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