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The Walkers signing the graduate fellowhships papers. Seated are Leslie and Ron Walker. Standing (l-r) are Mark Mossman, director of graduate studies in English, and Dan Hendricks, vice president for advancement and public services and executive officer of the WIU Foundation.
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Ron and Leslie Walker Graduate Fellowships Established

April 17, 2008

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MACOMB, IL - - Former Western Illinois University Chair of the Department of English and Journalism and Professor Emeritus Ron Walker and his wife, Leslie, have established the Ron and Leslie Walker Graduate Fellowships through the WIU Foundation to recognize outstanding academic achievement and the potential for continued professional accomplishment in the field of English studies.

Two graduate fellowships of $1,000 each will be awarded each spring to students who have earned 12 to 18 semester hours of English at the graduate level by the end of the spring term and who will return to the program in the fall semester. One fellowship will be awarded to a student in the "literature" option, and one fellowship will be awarded to a student in the "writing" option.

"We came to WIU and Macomb with the hope that this would be our home for a long time, and we have found that our connection with the University and the community is a lasting one," the Walkers said. "These scholarships are our investment in the future of talented students who take seriously the study of English, and who will benefit from this support and expression of faith in them."

Ron Walker came to Western Illinois University in July 1986. During his 12-year tenure as department chair (Fall 1986-Spring 1998), Walker was credited with making "a deep impression on the department, in particular on the English literature curriculum," wrote Deckle McLean, journalism professor emeritus, in a Spring 2005 article about Walker's retirement.

He hired more than 30 faculty members, including specialists in areas such as ethnic literature, composition theory and creative writing. He supported teacher education and assisted with increased course offerings in journalism, which was granted an independent major during his tenure. The author or editor of three books, he also published more than 50 articles and reviews on various literary topics in professional journals. Walker returned to classroom teaching fulltime in Fall 1998 and retired in May 2005.

Previously, Walker was an English professor and division head at the University of Houston-Victoria (1973-1986) in Victoria, Texas. He served as a Fulbright-Hays Lecturer in American literature at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (1980-1981), and was an instructor at Barber-Scotia College in Concord, NC, in 1968-1969. He earned his bachelor's degree (1967) at the University of Redlands (CA), his master's degree (1968) at UCLA and his Ph.D. (1974) at the University of Maryland.

"Our current and emeriti faculty members give back to the college so much of themselves in terms of time, talent and treasure," said College of Arts and Sciences Dean Inessa Levi. "It is part of a strong tradition here at WIU. We are grateful to Dr. and Mrs. Walker for their generosity in providing these fellowships that will provide greater access to educational opportunities for students who seek advanced studies."

Leslie Walker was manager of Copperfield and Company Booksellers in Macomb for 14 years. She is currently a volunteer reader for Radio Information Services of WIU and a volunteer at The Elms Nursing Home in Macomb where her mother is a resident.

"We are thrilled when emeriti faculty continue to support the University and the students to whom they have already given so much," said Vice President for Advancement and Public Services Dan Hendricks. "The Ron and Leslie Walker Graduate Fellowships are a wonderful testament to our University's core values of academic excellence and educational opportunity. We talk a lot about our University values and themes. Establishing these fellowships puts that talk into action, and will benefit students for many years to come."

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