Annette Y. Kirk

Annette Y. Kirk is president of the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal, director of its residential Fellows Program, and publisher of the journals The University Bookman and Studies in Burke and His Time. She also serves as an advisor to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Annette Y. Kirk

A native New Yorker, Mrs. Kirk moved to the village of Mecosta, Michigan in 1964 when she married Russell Kirk. While raising their four daughters and acting as lecture agent for her husband, she founded the Mecosta County Council for the Arts, and served for ten years as Chairman of the Mecosta County Board of Social Services.

Mrs. Kirk was a board member of the Midland Charter Initiative and the Education Freedom Fund, which awarded scholarships to low-income students in Michigan Schools. She served as an advisor to the Heritage Foundation’s Russell Kirk Memorial Lecture Series and was a member of the board of the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries.

Annette Kirk received her Bachelor of Arts degree and an honorary doctor of letters from Molloy College. She taught English and Drama in a New York public high school and did graduate work in theater at Queens College, in literature at St. John’s University, and in education at Columbia University.

President Ronald Reagan appointed Annette Kirk to the National Commission on Excellence in Education, which in 1983 published the landmark report, A Nation at Risk, elevating educational issues to national prominence. Since then, she has encouraged our educational and political leaders to consider to what purpose we are educating our youth, and whether true education can exist without a moral dimension.

During her thirty-year marriage to Russell Kirk, they gave joint lectures, campaigned for political candidates, and hosted thousands of students at seminars held in The Russell Kirk Center library where Russell Kirk wrote almost all of his thirty-two books.

Selected lectures by Annette Kirk

The survival of any culture, or of the material fabric of civilization, requires vigorous imagination and readiness to sacrifice. By dullness and complacency are intellectual and social orders undone.

Russell Kirk

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Highlights

Roots in Russian

Newsletter coverThe Spring 2018 Permanent Things Newsletter is now available. News items include an announcement of Russell Kirk’s The Roots of American Order recently published in Russian for the first time. Translator Dr. Marina Kizima, a professor at Moscow State Institute, was a Wilbur Fellow at the Kirk Center while researching and writing on American literature, culture, and intellectual traditions.

May 2018

In Memoriam: Sally Sluhan Wright (1947–2018)

Sally Wright, a long-time family friend of the Kirks and the Kirk Center, passed away on June 15, 2018. Her father Clyde Sluhan, founder of Master Chemical Company in Ohio, and his wife Marian were great friends of Russell Kirk. The Sluhans exchanged many visits with the Kirks and on one occasion brought Count Nikolai Tolstoy, the Russian-English writer and politician, to visit the Kirks.

Sally was a prolific writer of mystery novels and an Edgar Alan Poe Award Finalist. Sally’s Ben Reese series chronicles the investigations of a WWII Ranger turned academic archivist in six mysteries that unfold in Britain, the U.S., and Italy where he researches arcane artifacts while seeking some sort of justice for the victims of unsolved murders. In her Jo Grant mystery series, the story is driven by the conflicts and emotional connections in three family businesses in the horse industry in Kentucky in the early 1960s. The University Bookman reviewed both series in an essay called “The Moral Imagination in the Mystery Novels of Sally Wright” by Ashlee Cowles.

Reviewers have compared her work to that of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Josephine Tey, Margery Allingham, and Ngaio Marsh. Sally said that her literary influences ranged from all of those to Tolstoy and Jane Austen. “And yet it’s C. S. Lewis who’s probably influenced me most, through the whole body of his work, as a thinker, a person, and a writer,” she wrote. “In his Chronicles of Narnia and his metaphysical novels, The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters, he uses popular fiction to talk about what T. S. Eliot called ‘the permanent things’—consideration of morality, of origin, and spiritual meaning. It was those books that started me thinking about writing mysteries to begin with.”

Sally and her husband Joe were stalwart supporters of the Kirk Center. In honor of her memory, the Kirk Center is featuring the extensive personal interview that Sally conducted with Dr. Kirk.

Jun 2018

Undergraduate and Graduate Student Seminars This Spring

For a long weekend in March, Hillsdale College Honors Students gathered at the Kirk Center to explore the theme “Man as Maker in Moral Perspective.” Professor of Classics Eric Hutchinson guided the students on the complex topics of transhumanism and cloning, followed by readings from Ray Bradbury’s science fiction stories. Although the March winds deterred students from an afternoon walk, they rounded out the weekend with piano-playing and singing at the Kirk house.

Hillsdale Seminar March 2018

On April 26–29, the Kirk Center welcomes this year’s recipients of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s prestigious Richard M. Weaver Fellowships for a seminar about Plato’s writings on education, sponsored by The Liberty Fund of Indianapolis. Since 1964, the Weaver Fellowship Program has identified and supported graduate students committed to freedom-oriented teaching at the college level. This year, fifteen students from across the country were selected as Weaver Fellows. Dr. David Corey, professor of Political Science at Baylor University, and Dr. Richard Gamble, professor of history at Hillsdale College, will lead the discussions.

Apr 2018