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Honoring a late husband’s legacy with poetry endowment

Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Honoring a late husband’s legacy with poetry endowment
Maurice F. Brown, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of English at Oakland University from 1961 until his death in 1985, was the first faculty member to specialize in American Literature. 

He is remembered by colleagues like Dr. Jane Eberwein as “an encouraging, enlivening colleague…. and a popular teacher.”  His colleagues honored his love of poetry by establishing a fund to purchase works of contemporary American poetry for Kresge Library. In 1988, the first poetry reading was planned by Dr. Eberwein to celebrate the establishment of the Maurice F. Brown Collection of Contemporary Poetry.

More than 25 years later, the Maurice F. Brown Memorial Poetry Reading has welcomed an impressive list of poets and authors including two poet laureates. According to Dr. Edward Haworth Hoeppner, who has coordinated the event since 1989, “…The reading series has become a significant event in the life of the department and the community at large, and our students have responded well to it.”

After years of designating her All-University Fund Drive contributions to the poetry reading, Mrs. Maurice F. Brown and her children, Mathilde C. K. Brown Swanson and Frederick W. K. Brown have joined in establishing a permanent endowment for the annual poetry reading. Their gift will ensure that a tradition, which began 26 years ago, will continue to educate and delight students, faculty and the community at large.

“My family and I are grateful to Jane Eberwein for her wonderful suggestion that a poetry reading be established in Maurice’s memory, a memorial that has enhanced campus life and the life of the community,” said Brown. “We are grateful to Ed Haworth Hoeppner for the administration of the readings and for his choice of the excellent and varied poetry that has been presented. The large audiences attending the readings have made their importance obvious. It is therefore appropriate that the poetry reading be made a permanent event.”

By primarily utilizing an IRA charitable distribution, Judith K. Brown, Ed.D., distinguished professor of anthropology, emerita was able to fully endow the poetry reading in her husband’s memory. She was also able to simultaneously reduce her taxes. This unique opportunity is periodically made available by means of the tax law, making it possible for donors to direct their required minimum distribution (RMD) to benefit a charity or certain institutions, such as Oakland University.

Knowing the impact the annual Maurice F. Brown Memorial Poetry Reading has on the students, the University and the community, and realizing the exponential impact in making it permanent, Dr. Hoeppner said, “Those of us who work to pull it together each year are indebted […] to Judy Brown, for her long standing support: she has been a gift to us.”

To find out whether creating an endowment may be right for you, please contact the Planned Giving office at giftplan@oakland.edu or (248) 364-6129.