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Gift to fund C of I chair in writing, rhetoric

The College of Idaho will create a new chair that further enhances its long-standing strength in developing students’ clarity of thought and writing thanks to a bequest from an anonymous donor.

The Berringer Chair in Writing and Rhetoric will honor legendary C of I English professor Ralph Berringer, who taught at the C of I in the 1950s and 1960s and helped invigorate the intellectual life of the College following World War II.

C of I President Marv Henberg noted that Berringer’s dedication to his students remains an inspiration today.

“Professor Berringer clearly recognized that the kind of liberal arts learning that distinguishes The College of Idaho depends upon a spirit of collaboration and connected learning across the disciplines,” Henberg said. “Accordingly, the Berringer Chair aims to establish comprehensive support for learning and teaching related to writing and rhetoric.”

The bequest, which has not yet been realized, will provide support for a faculty chair who will coordinate all aspects of the College’s writing program, for the establishment of a writing center to support student writers, and for campus-wide celebrations of writing.

The new writing center will enable well-trained student tutors to help their fellow students think through their writing and provide additional assistance to the College’s growing contingent of international students, who currently make up 10 percent of the student body.

President Henberg noted that the fully-funded faculty chair will support faculty from various disciplines who are teaching writing-intensive courses and work to strengthen the professional writing skills of students. Guest workshops and readings by renowned writers as well as events showcasing the writing of students also will be supported through the bequest. 

Berringer came to the C of I in 1953 and taught until his death in 1963. His courses in Shakespeare and the development of the English language were favorites of students at the College, and he instituted a program of radio presentations in which C of I students performed broadcast versions of plays on campus and on local radio stations. Students also looked forward to his annual satirical skit, “Black Masque,” a send up of the dramatic club, Scarlet Masque, that featured some of his fellow professors dressed in bunny suits among other comic bits.

Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. It has a century-old tradition of educating some of the most accomplished graduates in Idaho, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, and another 11 Truman and Goldwater Scholars. The College is located on a beautiful campus in Caldwell, Idaho. Its distinctive PEAK curriculum challenges students to attain competencies in the four knowledge peaks of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field, enabling them to graduate with an academic major and three minors in four years. For more information on The College of Idaho, visit