English prof recognized for literary contribution

Jill Pearson

An ISU professor was honored with an award for her literary contributions to family-oriented magazines.Fern Kupfer, associate professor of English, was awarded the Myrtle Wreath Award for her column in Newsday Magazine. She received the award in late October for her articles addressing parenting topics ranging from abortion and gay issues to step-families and families with special needs.”I did not know I was receiving the award until I received a phone call from one of the members of the Nassau Region of Hadassah,” Kupfer said.The award is given not only to authors but also those in the fields of human rights, broadcasting, science, the arts, government, and journalism, said Lucy Posner-Varon, chairwoman of the awards committee.Kupfer said she began writing the column for Newsday, which has a circulation of close to a million readers, in 1993. She also has written four books and several short essays for magazines such as Parenting and Newsweek.”When you write about controversial issues, it is nice to be validated with an award such as this,” Kupfer said. She said the award was particularly welcome because it was unexpected. Kupfer said she writes about issues she believes in and cares about, and she said the award is a reflection of her ability to write and speak well.”I don’t write about the usual look-how-cute-my-kid-is stories; I write about stories that I have personal experience with,” said Kupfer, mother of three grown children.David Roberts, assistant chairman and associate professor of English, said Kupfer’s witty personality and participation within the department are noteworthy and have made an impact on fellow co-workers within Iowa State’s English department. “[Kupfer] has a reputation as an excellent teacher,” Roberts said. “She’s well respected by her students and she does an excellent job at helping them become better writers.”Hadassah is the largest Jewish women’s philanthropy group in the nation and Kupfer said they made her feel as though she had made a significant impact in society.Previous recipients of the award include playwright Wendy Wasserstein, former United Nations Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy.The other recipient of the award was a Holocaust survivor, and Kupfer said he was a nice man and she felt honored to receive the award with him.