Great move on Washington College's part to move the awarding of the annual Sophie Kerr Literary Prize to New York. These are the kind of "bold strokes" that its namesake, George Washington, and its revolutionary founders would have applauded.
As the former director of media relations at Washington College (2000-2006), I witnessed first-hand the college work diligently to promote its reputation beyond Maryland and grow its stature as a nationally competitive liberal arts college. The first efforts really began 30 years ago with President Douglass Cater, with subsequent presidents continually moving the ball downfield toward the goal.
The fact is that the Sophie Kerr Prize was becoming a bit "dusty." Sure, it drew the media to Chestertown every May, but the prize was in danger of being perceived as more of a passing novelty than as a passage into the larger literary world. A couple of emotionally charged photographs of the winner, a few quotations from professors, then the story was forgotten. More than a few winners began to speak of a "curse" attached to the prize, one that damned the winner to eternal literary obscurity.
By these steps, Washington College is working to ensure that the literary promise that the prize awards does not remain hidden for the talented winner nor unseen by the larger media and publishing world, whose capital is New York City.
John Buettner, Catonsville
The writer is assistant vice president of public relations at Stevenson University.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun