Bauer, who was selected by committee, will promote scholarly activities and public events as part of the position, which is supported with an endowment of $152,000 from an anonymous donor.
The first named recipient of the award, Bauer holds a doctorate from the University of Tennessee. She has published a book on the fiction of Ellen Gilchrist and has another book on the work of William Faulkner and other Southern writers scheduled for publication in 2005. She is the general editor of the "North Carolina Literary Review," an award-winning journal published by the Department of English, the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.
Bruce Southard, chair of ECU's Department of English, said Bauer's deep and wide influence on students and on the field of scholarship of the American South makes her particularly suitable to hold the Rives Chair.
"Dr. Bauer has distinguished herself in every area. She has been recognized by the university for her outstanding teaching and scholarship; she is a nationally recognized scholar in Southern letters; and she is an individual of personal grace, a characteristic that has influenced students and colleagues alike."
The Rives Chair position was created by the anonymous donation from a former ECU English student in honor of the professor. Serving on the ECU faculty from 1960 to 1992, Rives taught British literature, drama and public speaking, rhetoric and composition, and literature of the American South. Described by the donor as the "quintessential Southern gentleman," Rives was an influential and popular classroom lecturer and mentor.
"He had his students thinking globally long before international studies became current, and he inspired students to love literature and respect the English language," the donor said.
Keats Sparrow, dean of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, touted Rives' enthusiasm in education. "Dr. Rives' erudition, grace, and wit, and his unswerving commitment to undergraduate education makes him stand out in a field and in a department that are themselves models of scholarship, of writing of a high order and of educational dedication," Sparrow said.
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