Though he passed away nearly 10 years ago, the legacy of Dr. Albert A. Dunn and his passion for literature and teaching remain a part of the campus through the Albert A. Dunn Day of Poetry and Prose. This ritual of spring serves both as a forum for readings of great literature and a unique opportunity to raise money to benefit Fredonia students.
The inaugural Albert A. Dunn Day of Poetry and Prose – organized by Linda Dunn, his widow, the Department of English, former students and alumni, with assistance from the Department of Theatre and Dance and the Fredonia College Foundation – proved to be so successful that it’s become an annual event held during April, which is also National Poetry Month.
Where else can students, faculty, staff, alumni, retirees and community members gather to read aloud favorite passages in literature or recite their favorite poems? The format is casual, so readers can come and go as they wish during the program’s four hours.
The nominal reader’s fee raises money to support the Albert A. Dunn Endowment established with the foundation, which awards an annual scholarship to an English major or dual English major. Last year’s recipient was a dual English-Theatre major. Proceeds are also allocated to a book grant program that helps students build their own book collections.
The scholarship’s value has grown and will reach $1,500 in 2017-2018. Two book grants, at $250 each, are also awarded each year.
“He [Dr. Dunn] loved literature and poetry, so it’s keeping the flame for things that he loved alive, as well as providing scholarship assistance to students, which was important to him,” Mrs. Dunn said.
Envisioned as a one-time campus event, it has evolved to include community members, as well. Though they may not be able to attend, alumni still participate by sponsoring a reader or making an individual donation to the endowment.
For more than 30 years, Dr. Dunn was a beloved faculty member in the Department of English. Support for the special day runs deep among faculty, even among those in other disciplines. Theatre Professor Thomas Loughlin and Dr. Jack Croxton of the Department of Psychology, are venerable readers. Last year, both were suitably attired – Mr. Loughlin wearing a New York Yankees’ ball cap, Dr. Croxton with a Pittsburgh Pirates cap – for a tag-team performance of Abbott and Costello’s classic “Who’s On First” routine. They’ve also read, individually and in different years, “Casey at the Bat.”
Each year, as many as 60 presenters participate in the Albert A. Dunn Day of Poetry to continue his legacy and enrich a new generation of students with Dr. Dunn’s love of literature. The day also encourages the art of reading aloud. There is no admission fee and visitors are welcome drop by and simply listen.
The ninth edition of the Albert A. Dunn Day of Poetry and Prose was held on April 3, in the Dennis, '72, and Kathryn Costello Community Room, in the Rockefeller Arts Center’s new studio complex.