The annual writing competition for Rensselaer undergraduate and graduate students—the McKinney Contest—is now open for the academic year. Faculty members are asked to encourage students to participate. The 2016 McKinney Awards Ceremony will be held on Wednesday, April 13, beginning at 8 p.m. in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies auditorium. This year’s visiting author and speaker is novelist and short story writer Steven Millhauser. The event is free and open to the public.


Steven Millhauser will present awards to the winners of the McKinney Contest and read from his work during the ceremony. Photo by Michael Lionstar.


The deadline for submitting entries for this year’s McKinney contest is Tuesday, March 22, by 4 p.m., in the main office of the Department of Communication and Media, located in Russell Sage Laboratory, room 3502.

Winning submissions may also be considered for publication in the student-run literary magazine, Statler & Waldorf. The magazine published its first issue in 2002 and currently publishes every two weeks while classes are in session.

Millhauser will present awards to the winners of the McKinney Contest and read from his work during the ceremony on April 13. He is the author of many works of fiction, including Martin Dressler, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1997, and, most recently, Dangerous Laughter, a New York Times Book Review Best Book of the Year. His collection We Others: New and Selected Stories was the winner of The Story Prize and a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award in 2002. Millhauser’s work has been translated into 15 languages, and his story “Eisenheim the Illusionist” was the basis of the 2006 film The Illusionist.

Millhauser’s stories often treat fantasy themes in a manner reminiscent of Poe or Borges, and with a distinctively American voice. As critic Russell Potter wrote, “In (Millhauser’s stories), mechanical cowboys at penny arcades come to life; curious amusement parks, museums, or catacombs beckon with secret passageways and walking automata; dreamers dream and children fly out their windows at night on magic carpets.” Millhauser teaches at Skidmore College and lives in Saratoga Springs.

The McKinney Writing Contest was established in 1941 by Samuel McKinney, who graduated from Rensselaer in 1884, in memory of his wife, Mary Earl McKinney. The contest is designed to encourage communication skills among Rensselaer students and promote the liberal arts.

In addition to the McKinney Fund, the contest receives support from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Vollmer Fries Lecture Fund; School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; Rensselaer Union; Friends of the Folsom Library; Department of Communication and Media; the New York State Writers Institute; and the literary organization Poets & Writers.

More information.