SCF, Hermitage Artist Retreat Partner on Annette Dignam Residency in Literature

(Bradenton, Fla., January 27, 2015) — State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) and the Hermitage Artist Retreat are pleased to announce that the Annette Dignam Hermitage/SCF Residency in Literature has been created through a generous endowed fund set up by Key Agency and the Dignam family of Englewood at the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. The Residency ensures that annually, a writer of national stature will be awarded a Hermitage residency and will present workshops and guest lectures at SCF. The winner of the Annette Dignam Residency will be selected by the Hermitage National Artist Selection Committee and the endowed residency guarantees this partnership will continue in perpetuity.

“The Dignam family have been Englewood residents for five generations,” explained Bruce E. Rodgers, executive director for the Hermitage. “Key Agency, started by George Dignam, Tom Dignam’s father, continues to be the family business. Throughout the years, the Dignams have been devoted to their community, giving their time and financial support to many organizations. Two of those are the Hermitage Artist Retreat and SCF, where Annette served as a Foundation board member. As a former teacher, her love of learning and literature and the family’s commitment to the Hermitage made this a perfect tribute to a great lady. We are very grateful to the Dignam family for honoring Annette in this way and guaranteeing the continuation of what will surely be a terrific partnership between our two organizations.” 

Annette Dignam is well known throughout the community for her philanthropy and is admired by those who have had the good fortune to know her. According to Cassandra Holmes, executive director of the SCF Foundation, “The State College of Florida Foundation is so proud to call Annette Dignam our friend.  For 25 years she served on our Board of Directors and her legacy of giving is scattered throughout the SCF Venice campus.  She is the epitome of a woman who believes in giving back and taking care of her community and we congratulate her on this latest honor.”

At a small gathering of friends and family to announce the Residency, Kirsten Fulkerson, Vice President for Strategic Engagement at the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, also commented on the family’s impact on the community.

“The Annette Dignam Hermitage/SCF Residency in Literature will ensure that the generosity of Annette and the entire Dignam family lives on forever.  Years from now, future generations will celebrate all the good that comes from what was done today.  We thank the Dignams for their generosity, and we thank Annette for the astounding impact she has had, and will continue to have, on each of us and our community.”

The first recipient of the Residency is Christopher Merrill, a poet and writer who is also the director of the International Writing Program at University of Iowa and a cultural envoy for the state department. He is a current member of the National Council of the Humanities, an appointment by President Obama. Christopher’s work takes him all over the world and his experiences are reflected in his writing. He will be teaching at SCF in February.  

“Christopher is a terrific first-time recipient of the Residency, and we are very excited to kick off this program with such a strong candidate,” Rodgers said. “He is a phenomenal teacher and writer who will share a lifetime of experiences with students and enhance SCF’s strong academic offerings. We have shared our artists with the college before, as part of our community programming. It’s wonderful to know this is now a guaranteed benefit provided to SCF students and the community.”


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