Reichardt Center will expand experience for creative writing students

December 4, 2014

They will be job-ready, with experience in writing, editing and publishing. But perhaps more important, Emporia State creative writing students will graduate as literary citizens, with experience in addressing adaptive challenges for the arts in society.

Thanks to a gift from ESU Distinguished Alumnus Donald G. Reichardt of Roswell, Georgia, student writers have a new space in which to learn practical skills and to engage in literary citizenship experiences. Reichardt cut the ribbon on The Donald Reichardt Center for Publishing and Literary Arts this afternoon, after which students led tours of the space and demonstrated the new equipment.

Occupying a suite of offices on the third floor of Plumb Hall, The Donald Reichardt Center for Publishing and Literary Arts includes technology and resources for developing professional skills in editing, reviewing, layout and design. Editing stations facilitate the production of print publications, scripts, screenwriting and video. The space is also a seed-bed for creativity, featuring social areas for reading, practicing scripts, community outreach projects or planning events. Message boards and interactive, write-on surfaces allow writers to share news and brainstorm ideas.

A native of Emporia, Reichardt retired in 1996 after a 35-year career in telecommunications. He was the executive director of advertising and brand management for BellSouth Corp., of Atlanta. In that capacity, Reichardt was responsible for BellSouth’s 1996 Olympic Games sponsorship in Atlanta. After retirement, he formed ProComm Strategic Communications, providing planning and marketing counsel for clients in several cities. Active in the Public Relations Society of America, Reichardt was named to the organization’s College of Fellows.

Reichardt is also a published novelist with a rich history of involvement with publications and literary arts at Emporia State. His favorite college class was Dr. Green Wyrick’s creative writing class, a course in which he remembered students being challenged to push the limits of their imaginations.

“I got started with my writing career right here,” Reichardt said, standing in the Department of English, Modern Languages and Journalism in Plumb Hall, “in this building, in this university, in this city.”

He recalled for the crowd of more than 50 his first short-story assignment for Wyrick. It was handed back with an A and one line of comment: “You can write, kid.”

“With four simple words, he stoked a fire in a freshman kid who since he was 8 wanted to be a writer.”

During his undergraduate days, Reichardt also served as editor in chief of the ESU Bulletin.

One of his favorite memories as a Hornet was “deadline Thursday in the Bulletin office, pushing hard to get the final stories dropped into the layout, reading proof before going to press and leaving late in the evening exhausted, gratified and anticipating the response when copies hit the stands on Friday morning.”

During the celebration, Max McCoy, associate professor and advisor for the Bulletin, showed Reichardt a frame copy of a Bulletin front page from 1968 and asked him to sign it for hanging in the Center.

The Center will house Creative Writing Program activities and publications, through which students can learn literary citizenship. These include a visiting writers series, a poetry press and Flint Hills Review, a national literary journal in publication since 1996. The Creative Writing student organization Quivira will also be housed here.

The club received a Second Century Award in 2000 as one of the nation’s oldest student organizations. It produces Quivira, a literary journal featuring writing and art by Emporia State students. In print since 1958, it is the oldest continuously published student literary journal west of the Mississippi.

Reichardt’s gift to create the Center is part of Now & Forever: The Campaign for Emporia State University. Launched in February 2013, Now & Forever: The Campaign for Emporia State University is a five- to seven-year effort with a working goal of $45 million. It is already the most successful fund-raising initiative in University history, with financial commitments now exceeding $32.5 million.

The campaign supports student scholarships, academic departments and initiatives that advance Emporia State’s mission to recruit students, teach and retain them, encourage them to graduate with lower levels of student debt, and ultimately put them on a path to a solid career.

For more information about Now & Forever giving opportunities, contact DenaSue Potestio, Emporia State University Foundation president/CEO, dpotesti@emporia.edu, 620-341-5440.