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College of Arts and Sciences

Brown Ink Society of Purdue Fort Wayne


The Brown Ink Society was founded in 2000 to honor the memory of Steve Hollander, a professor in the IPFW Department of English and Linguistics, who passed away in 1998, after 30 years of great teaching, exemplary leadership, and generosity.

During his 30 years at IPFW, he achieved an unmatched moral and intellectual authority among his colleagues. It was, of course, impossible for them to acknowledge his expertise in their own fields, but they did not hesitate to accept his word as law in the disciplines of everyone else. They were right to do so, for he was as nearly omnicompetent as anyone can be in a complicated age. A man with a good liberal education, Steven Hollander could create a set of bylaws, teach people to write, improve a computer's memory, debug a program, heal sick prose, and patiently hear, and carefully counsel, a troubled human being. He had a lively mind, useful hands, and an open heart. The man who came as a replacement stayed and became irreplaceable.

And many benefited. Several generations of English Department chairs, Arts and Sciences deans, and IPFW chancellors and vice chancellors relied on Professor Hollander for good advice and well-earned criticism--which he provided to them, and anyone who crossed his path, generously and without stinting. He either led or provoked his colleagues on every great effort they made: constitutions, bylaws, rules of procedure, academic regulations, general education, student code of conduct, autonomy and independence, promotion and tenure, grievance procedures, and so on down the mighty list. As a long-time member of the Indiana University Faculty Council, he made important contributions through his work on its Educational Policy Committee and the Style and Rules Committee. He also was in demand as a consultant on technical writing, computer software, and programming in a variety of industries. 

Mr. Hollander’s generosity extended to his interactions with students. When he encountered a student in need, he would personally and discreetly give them money out of his own pocket.  Mr. Hollander’s legacy lives on in the Brown Ink Society, an organization that replaced Steve’s wallet as a source of assistance to students in need. That his colleagues chose to honor his memory with a scholarship fund that will help those students in most difficult circumstances is a testament to Mr. Hollander’s legacy and generosity of spirit.

Brown Ink was selected for the name since Mr. Hollander was known for using brown ink rather than blue, black, or red in his editorial comments on papers and documents.

The Brown Ink Society makes grants to students, based on recommendations by PFW faculty and staff. The Society provides grants of up to $500 to academically deserving students faced with financial emergencies that would significantly but temporarily disrupt their studies. (Usual and recurring expenses do not normally qualify as emergencies.) Generally, the society does not award money for tuition, books, or supplies. Thus far, over $128,000 has been distributed to over 445 students thanks to generous donations made by faculty, staff and retirees.

During Spring 2020, if you are a faculty or staff member who becomes aware of a student who fits the circumstances described above, you should contact Michele Shawver by email ( The Society relies on your vigilance in identifying those in need of assistance and your discretion in recognizing true emergencies. Students should not be referred directly to Ms. Shawver. 

If you are a student in need, you should know that the Brown Ink Society exists. Please reach out to a trusted faculty or staff member at PFW, so they can help you receive assistance.

Thank you and, as Steve always used to say, “Thank you for shopping at K-Mart!”

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