December 4, 2007

Laurence Perrine

The impact of beloved SMU professor Laurence Perrine will continue for generations to come through a bequest from the estate of his wife, Catherine Perrine. The $3.3 million bequest will fund scholarships and an endowed faculty chair in the Department of English, Dedman College.

A total of $1.5 million of the bequest will establish the Laurence and Catherine Perrine Endowed Chair in English, which will support a faculty position specializing in creative writing. An additional $1 million will establish the Laurence and Catherine Perrine Endowed President’s Scholarship Fund to support at least two President’s Scholarships awarded to Dedman College majors. The re­mainder of the Perrine bequest will establish the Perrine Endowed University Scholarship Fund to provide scholarships for English majors, who will be known as the Perrine Scholars in English.

"Laurence Perrine’s influence continues through this generous bequest, which will enable the Department of English to strengthen its creative writing program with a new endowed faculty position and allow Dedman College to attract some of the nation’s brightest students through additional scholarship opportunities," says Interim Dedman Dean Caroline Brettell.

Catherine Perrine met her future husband when she was teaching freshman English at SMU from 1948 to 1950. Subsequently, she became active in civic affairs and statewide environmental issues, particularly water planning.

After earning B.A. and M.A. degrees from Oberlin College and a Ph.D. from Yale University, Laurence Perrine began his distinguished career as a member of SMU’s English faculty in 1946 and was named the Daisy Deane Frensley Professor of English Literature in 1968. He gained a national reputation for his classic textbooks, Sound and Sense and Story and Structure, first published in the 1950s. Sound and Sense became one of the most influential works in American education. Updated versions of the textbooks are still in use.

Perrine was one of the founders of SMU’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter in 1949. In his honor, the chapter awards a Perrine Prize each year to a member of SMU’s undergraduate faculty in liberal studies "who embodies the ideals of Phi Beta Kappa and the tradition of excellence fostered by Professor Perrine." He retired as the Frensley Professor Emeritus in 1980 and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from SMU in 1988. He died in 1995.

SMU added a creative writing specialization to its B.A. degree program in English in 1975. The SMU Department of English also offers an M.A. degree and began offering a Ph.D. this fall.