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Loras College English class visiting the Mines of Spain in Dubuque

Honoring a Legacy of Inspiring Student Writers

Professor Kevin Koch presenting his book on Loras College campus

After over four decades of nurturing student writers at Loras College, Dr. Kevin Koch (’81) will have his legacy immortalized through a newly established writing prize in his name. The Kevin Koch Writing Prize will be awarded annually to a Loras student whose poem, essay, story, or other work is judged as the best single piece published that year in the College’s literary journal, The Limestone Review.

Koch, who is retiring in May 2024 after forty-two years on the Loras faculty, has served as editor-in-chief of The Limestone Review and its predecessor The Outlet for over thirty years. Throughout his tenure, he has tirelessly championed student writing and expression.

“Dr. Koch’s passion for creative nonfiction and nature writing has inspired generations of Loras students to find their distinctive voices on the page,” said Dr. Erin VanLaningham, a professor of English. “The Kevin Koch Writing Prize honors his lasting impact as an educator and will motivate future students to follow in his footsteps as accomplished writers.”

The prize was established by Koch’s colleagues, family, friends, and former students as a retirement gift recognizing his immense contributions to the Loras English program and the writing lives of countless students. In addition to editing the literary journal, Koch developed and taught popular courses like Nature Writing, Creative Nonfiction Writing, Writing the Midwest Landscape, and more.

His own books of literary nonfiction celebrating the natural history of the Driftless region—including The Driftless Land, The Thin Places, and most recently Midwest Bedrock—have further inspired students to find deeper meaning and beauty in their surroundings through the written word.

“This prize means so much because it continues supporting what I’ve always cared about most – bringing out the best in student writers and helping them find their unique voices,” said Koch. “I’m incredibly honored and hope the award will inspire future students to embrace their passions through writing, just as I did.”

While retiring from full-time teaching, Koch plans to stay engaged with the Loras community through activities like teaching interim courses, joining student trips, and continuing his local outdoors column and other writing projects.

The first annual Kevin Koch Writing Prize will be awarded in 2025 to a student piece published in the 2025 edition of The Limestone Review. In recognizing exceptional student writing for years to come, the prize ensures Koch’s enduring legacy nurturing and empowering young writers.

Additional contributions can be designated for the Kevin J. Koch Writing Prize online.

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