Janice Harrington and Curtis Perry, professors in the Department of English, have been appointed as Clayton and Thelma Kirkpatrick Professors by the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Illinois. The 5-year appointments provide $15,000 in annual discretionary funding. 

Harrington, who teaches in the Creative Writing Program, is an accomplished poet and children’s book author. Her peers praise her for her contributions to the field, carrying on tradition while skillfully combining poetry and history in a way that delights readers. Some of her most recent books uncover stories about the achievements and struggles of groundbreaking Black scientists. 

Perry teaches about English literary and cultural history and is described as a luminary in Shakespeare studies who has substantially advanced the field through scholarship, teaching, and service. Perry, recognized as an expert in multiple fields, has been praised for creativity and productivity that has resulted in an impressive record of publications incorporating a broad range of topics and theoretical approaches.    

The professorship was established in 1993 by Clayton and Thelma Kirkpatrick. Clayton (BA, English, ’37) was an important figure in journalism who has been credited with transforming the Chicago Tribune from a regional Midwestern conservative newspaper to a Pulitzer Prize-winning publication. Kirkpatrick, who started out as a reporter at the Tribune, would eventually become the editor of the publication and go on to serve as chairman of the Chicago Tribune Company’s board of directors. Both Clayton and Thelma became members of the University of Illinois Foundation’s Presidents Council, the University’s highest donor recognition organization.