“We knew this was where we wanted to invest in the University’s future.”

Elkhart, Indiana and Marco Island, Florida

Laura and Marlyn “Marly” Rydson of Elkhart, Indiana, and Marco Island, Florida, are longtime friends of The University of Iowa who love good books, good jazz, and good theatre.

When the couple was invited to tour the UI campus a few years ago, they knew they wanted the Writers’ Workshop on their itinerary. They also knew they were contemplating a gift to the University, and as they listened to the late Writers’ Workshop director Frank Conroy and faculty member Canin (1984 M.F.A.) talk about the program, the couple knew that they’d found the UI area they most wanted to support.

The two avid readers were especially excited to meet Canin, as they were fans of his book, The Palace Thief, and the popular film based on it, The Emperor’s Club.

“Laura reads three or four books a week and often buys books published by the University of Iowa Press,” said Marly Rydson. “We knew this was where we wanted to invest in the University’s future.”

The Writers’ Workshop in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences was the first creative writing degree program in the country when it was established in 1936, and it regularly ranks number one in U.S.News & World Report’s college rankings.

That’s why the couple was so excited to establish the Marly and Laura Rydson Faculty Fellowship—the first endowed faculty award ever created in the Writers’ Workshop—in 2002. They were especially pleased when Canin became the fellowship’s first recipient.

Since then, the Rydsons also have made another major gift commitment in support of the recently completed addition to the Dey House, where the Workshop is housed.

“We’re so grateful for alumni and friends like the Rydsons who take real pride and pleasure in what our students create,” Canin says.

He demonstrated his gratitude for their generosity by autographing a poster for The Emperor’s Club, which hangs prominently in the Rydson home. It reads, “For Marly and Laura—Emperors in Deed.”