April 26, 2006 — University of Virginia Commonwealth Professor and former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove was among the Class of 2006 Fellows elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The 195 scholars include 175 new Fellows and 20 Foreign Honorary Members recognized for their distinguished contributions to the arts, sciences, scholarship and public affairs. Dove and the other honorees will be inducted into the 226-year-old academy at a ceremony on October 7 in Cambridge, Mass.
Dove has published eight books of poetry, the most recent being “American Smooth,” which was released in 2004. She received the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her book, “Thomas and Beulah,” making her the second African-American poet (after Gwendolyn Brooks in 1950) to receive the prestigious award. She also has written a novel, “Through the Ivory Gate,” and a book of short stories, “Fifth Sunday.” Her play, “The Darker Face of the Earth,” had its world premiere in 1996 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and was staged at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and the Royal National Theatre in London, among other theatres.
With her election to the academy, Dove becomes the 26th U.Va. faculty member chosen for this honor. Past inductees include Edgar Allan Poe Professor of Creative Writing Ann Beattie, Edward R. Stettinius Professor of Politics William Quandt, internationally known biochemist C. David Allis, historian and Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Edward L. Ayers and Matthew Holden Jr., politics professor emeritus.
Speaking of the Class of 2006 Fellows, Academy President and U.Va. English professor emeritus Patricia Meyer Spacks said, "It gives me great pleasure to welcome these outstanding leaders in their fields to the Academy. Fellows are selected through a highly competitive process that recognizes individuals who have made preeminent contributions to their disciplines and to society at large."
Election to the academy is one of the nation’s highest honors for scholarly and creative achievement. Represented among this year's newly elected members are more than 60 universities, a dozen corporations, as well as museums, research institutes, media outlets and foundations. Founded in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock and other scholar-patriots, the Academy has elected as Fellows and Foreign Honorary Members the finest
minds and most influential leaders from each generation, including George Washington, Ben Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill. The current membership includes more than 170 Nobel laureates and 50 Pulitzer Prize winners.