The Doris Betts Distinguished Professorship in Creative Writing was established in 1998 with a challenge grant from philanthropist and UNC supporter Ben Jones III (’50). Bill Moore (’67) solicited gifts from more than 200 of Betts’ friends and admirers to raise additional support for this $1 million endowment.*

A native of Statesville, Betts won the Mademoiselle short story contest her sophomore year at UNC-G and garnered the Putnam Prize for a collection of short stories that same year. She was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in creative writing in 1958 and wrote short stories and fiction in between stints as a newspaperwoman.

Betts joined the faculty at UNC in 1966 and helped raise the reputation of the creative writing department to a national level. She was named Alumni Distinguished Professor in 1980 and served as faculty chair from 1982 to 1985. Among her many honors are the Caroliniana Society Award for her contributions to the state’s literary and cultural heritage, the North Carolina Award, the Tanner Award for distinguished undergraduate teaching  and the UNC Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching. Her novel Souls Raised from the Dead (1994) won the Southern Book Award and was named one of the 20 best books of that year by the New York Times. Three of her books – Tall Houses in Winter (1957), The Scarlet Thread (1964) and Beasts of the Southern Wild and Other Stories (1973) – won Sir Walter Raleigh Awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She also wrote several other novels, as well as short stories, essays and literary criticisms. She and her husband, retired judge Lowry Betts, are the parents of three children.

The Doris Betts Distinguished Professorship in Creative Writing is the first endowed professorship in the UNC-Chapel Hill creative writing program. The professorship provides the continuity, stability and commitment that Doris Betts demonstrated during her 30 years on the Carolina faculty. Income from the professorship fund is used by the College of Arts and Sciences to attract or retain a distinguished teacher and scholar in creative writing.

*received state matching funds from the State of North Carolina Distinguished Professors Endowment Trust

Doris Betts Distinguished Professor

2002 – Present:  Pam Durban