Donor establishes fund to support literary tradition


Jo An Klemmer

Jo Ann Klemmer has had a longtime interest in the English language, writing and Washburn University. She received a B.A. in English from Washburn in 1953, where she was editor of the Washburn literary magazine. After graduation, Jo Ann worked in the Menninger School of Psychiatry as a secretary for a few years, where she met her future husband Herb, who served as the Director of the Menninger School of Psychiatry for many years. They married in 1963, the same year she received her M.A. in English from the University of Kansas.

From 1968 to 1973, Klemmer served as an English instructor for Washburn University. During that time, she founded Inscape magazine, which later become the literary magazine for Washburn University.

"Philanthropy is about supporting things you have a connection with," Klemmer said. "One of the areas I have a strong connection with is Washburn's English Department."

After Herb's death in 2000, she established the Herbert and Jo Ann Klemmer Fund for the Washburn English Department to bring visiting scholars and writers to campus. In addition, Klemmer recently established a fund to support Inscape magazine. Upon her death, funds from her estate will enhance the visiting scholar program she established.

Howard Faulkner, Ph.D., Chair of Washburn's English Department, said Klemmer's generosity has benefited the department greatly.

"The Klemmer Lecture Series has given students, faculty and the Topeka community a chance to hear experts in their fields such as Ted Kooser, former poet laureate," Faulkner said. "In addition to public lectures, these guests visit and work with students in class, providing an extraordinary opportunity for them."

Faulkner further noted that, through her gift to Inscape, Klemmer has made it possible for the magazine to move to a new level. Her gift allows publishing artwork in color and also allows the magazine to award prizes for the best writing in several categories.

"It is very gratifying to see the programs I support at Washburn move ahead, fulfilling my hopes for them," Klemmer said.

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