Judith Ortiz Cofer, Regents and Franklin Professor of English and Creative Writing in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, has been named UGA’s 2013 recipient of the Southeastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award.
Ortiz Cofer is a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee and the author of four critically acclaimed novels, several lauded books of poetry, essays and memoirs, as well as books for children.
The award, which is administered by the SEC provosts, recognizes one faculty member from each of the SEC schools and includes a $5,000 honorarium.
“Professor Ortiz Cofer’s contributions to American literature and her work to inspire students make her a worthy recipient of the SEC Faculty Achievement Award,” said Jere Morehead, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “Interest in her work extends well beyond this nation’s borders, which demonstrates the far-reaching impacts of our faculty in today’s interconnected world.”
Ortiz Cofer’s first collection of poems, Peregrina (1986), won the Riverstone International Chapbook Competition, and several more books and awards followed. Her first major work of prose fiction, The Line of the Sun (1989), was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. She received another Pulitzer Prize nomination for her 1993 prose and poetry collection, The Latin Deli. Her first work for youth, An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio (1995), was named among the best books of the year for young adults by the American Library Association. Her book Lessons from a Writer’s Life (2011), which was created for use in high schools, encourages youth to enhance their language and writing skills to better express themselves and build richer lives.
To date, Ortiz Cofer has published 19 books, all still in print and many translated into Spanish as well as Dutch and Italian. More than 200 of her poems, essays, short stories and novel excerpts have been selected for anthologies, textbooks and collections. Anticipated among her upcoming works is a book inspired by her life in Georgia tentatively titled Peach Pit Corazon: Prose and Poetry.
Many of her students have gone on to publish award-winning books of their own and teach at colleges and universities across the nation.
In 2012, two of her former students-Lorraine M. Lopez, an associate professor at Vanderbilt University, and Molly Crumpton Winter, a professor at California State University at Stanislaus-published a book titled Rituals of Movement in the Writing of Judith Ortiz Cofer that collects analytical essays on her work written by award-winning poets, fiction writers and literary scholars.
Ortiz Cofer has served on the editorial board for the UGA Press and on the advisory boards for the university’s Willson Center for Humanities and Arts and for the university’s literary journal, The Georgia Review.Off campus, she has served on panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and judged the National Book Awards.
In 2010, Ortiz Cofer was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame and in 2011 was honored with the Georgia Governor’s Award in the Humanities. Her manuscripts and papers officially were archived and made available for research at the university’s Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 2012.
The SEC Faculty Achievement Awards honor professors with outstanding records in teaching and scholarship who serve as role models for other faculty and students. SEC Faculty Achievement Award winners become their university’s nominee for the SEC Professor of the Year Award, the winner of which receives an additional $15,000 honorarium.