(St. Mary’s City, Md) March 1, 2017 – St. Mary’s College of Maryland today announced that the longstanding one-story house formerly known as “The White House,” has been renamed after the College’s former distinguished professor of the humanities, Lucille Clifton. The naming of “The Lucille Clifton House” was approved by the St. Mary’s College of Maryland Board of Trustees and the Maryland Board of Public Works.
Lucille Clifton was one of the most decorated and beloved poets of her time. She won the National Book Award for Poetry and was the first Black recipient of the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement. Her honors and awards give testament to the universality of her unique and resonant voice. Clifton served as the State of Maryland’s Poet Laureate from 1979 – 1985. In 1987, she became the first author to have two books of poetry — “Good Woman” and “Next”— chosen as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in the same year. She was named a Literary Lion of New York Public Library in 1996, served as Chancellor of the Academy of American Poetry and was elected a fellow in Literature of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Tonight, March 1 at 7:30 p.m., on the cusp of Black History Month and Women’s History Month, the annual “Evening to Honor the Legacy of Lucille Clifton” event is held at the College. The free event is presented by the Office of the President and the VOICES Reading Series to celebrate up-and-coming and established poets. Tonight’s event features poets Toi Derricotte and Yona Harvey.
“The Lucille Clifton House” received an extensive renovation in recent months. Built from the timber of a temporary dormitory barracks in 1924, the little white house – now cream – sits along Trinity Church Road behind the Freedom of Conscience statue. It was originally a caretaker’s cottage and located near the Alumni Lodge. The house was moved to its current location in 1935 and has since served several different purposes.
Currently, it houses the Associate Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion/Chief Diversity Officer Kortet Mensah, along with Title IX Coordinator Michael Dunn.
Mensah collaborates with administration, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community partners to infuse inclusion, diversity and equity efforts into all aspects of the College. As the Title IX Coordinator, Dunn oversees the College’s response to all reports of sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking, and relationship violence and coordinates education and prevention efforts to ensure compliance with local, state and federal authority.
St. Mary’s College of Maryland, designated the Maryland state honors college in 1992, is ranked one of the best public liberal arts schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Approximately 1,800 students attend the college, nestled on the St. Mary’s River in Southern Maryland.