The following is a Butler University News Release. The Collegian will have our own coverage in next week’s issue.
The Efroymson Family Fund, a fund of Central Indiana Community Foundation, and Jeremy Efroymson will donate $1 million to Butler University to buy the home at 530 W. Hampton Drive – which from 1965 to 1979 was the University president’s house – and convert it to the Efroymson Center for Creative Writing.
The center will be used for collaboration, creativity and discussion with Butler’s visiting writers as well as a place to provide living space for those writers and selected students in Butler’s MFA program. A portion of the gift also will be used to establish an endowed fund for continued operations and maintenance of the center.
Butler established the MFA program in 2008; it will have its first graduates in December. Since 1989, Butler’s Visiting Writers Series has been bringing writers to Indianapolis for free, open-to-the-public events. In 2006, the series was named for Vivian S. Delbrook ’27.
“The Efroymson Family Fund has made many generous gifts to Butler University over the years, including student scholarship support and naming the Efroymson Diversity Center,” Butler President Bobby Fong said. “We are extremely grateful to Jeremy Efroymson and his family for this new gift and for their longtime friendship with Butler.”
The gift to buy the house is, in part, a result of years of conversations between Jeremy Efroymson and Butler English Professor Dan Barden about Efroymson’s vision of Indianapolis as a national center for art and literature. Efroymson, in addition to being a venture philanthropist, is a writer who has a deep passion and interest in creative writing and its role in providing artistic vitality to the Butler campus and city of Indianapolis.
Efroymson earned an MFA from Columbia College in Chicago, as well as an MBA from Butler in 2002. He said his goal, and the aim of the Efroymson Family Fund, is to promote the individual creative person in Indianapolis.
“It’s important for writers to have their own space,” he said. “and once I saw the house and the property, I saw it was an awesome place to do readings, to have a home base for writers, to house visiting writers. It will add a whole new level to Butler’s writing program and I think it will also be a boost to creative writing in general in the Indianapolis area.
Barden said he’s “humbled” by Efroymson’s commitment to this goal.
“Frankly,” Barden said, “Jeremy and the Efroymson Fund have given us much more than we could have asked for: a home for the MFA program and for visiting writers, but also a space for new and bolder community programs. I just don’t know how to thank him and the Efroymson Family Fund.”
Hilene Flanzbaum, chair of Butler’s English Department, described the Efroymson Center for Creative Writing as “a new and important resource for Butler, our new MFA students and the surrounding community.”
“We expect this to be a site to house several of our graduate students, as well as visiting writers and the Booth Tarkington Writer-in-Residence,” she said. “In addition, we plan to run extension programs that will serve the community, including the Butler Bridge, an extension of our Creative Writing Camp, which has already begun to offer workshops for high school students. And the large and beautiful garden at the house will be an ideal place for receptions.”
The house at 530 W. Hampton was built by longtime Butler benefactors Edward and Dorothy Gallahue. Between 1965 and 1979, the house was owned by Butler and used as the president’s house. In 1979, the University sold it to the Steiners – Albert M.S. ‘64, chair of the Department of Classical Studies for 32 years and now emeritus professor of classical studies, and Mary Ann ‘88, who still works in the University’s Office of Registration and Records. They are selling it back to Butler and donating a piano for the benefit of Butler students and visitors.