Karen McKinnon is an Alumna of UNM College of Arts and Sciences English Department, and also holds an MA (1977) from the UNM College of Education. At her 1960 graduation, she was recognized for Honors in English & French, and was a member of the first graduating class for the UNM Honors College.
During her career at UNM, she achieved great academic success, but also excelled beyond the academic sphere. She was very active in Dance as a member of the Elizabeth Waters Modern Dance Troupe, and was also highly involved in other campus activities such as being a member of the UNM Mortarboard Society and a member of Phi Sigma Iota Romance Language Honorary. She even played violin for the UNM Orchestra during her Junior and Senior years at Highland High School.
As a lover of creative writing, especially poetry, McKinnon went on to win the Lena M. Todd Short Story Award for 1958 and 1959. She has published four poetry books: Set In Motion, Coming True, Spiralings: A Journal into Poems, and Stereoscopic: Poems. Her poems have furthermore been included in the publication In Company: New Mexico Poets after 1960, published by UNM Press in 2004. She also was heavily involved in the Poet-In-the-Schools Program which focused on incorporating and highlighting poetry within numerous educational curricula nation-wide, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.
In April 2016, McKinnon made a $100,000 donation to the UNM Foundation for the benefit of the English Department to administer a Creative Writing Poetry contest for UNM undergraduates. The first contest will be held in Spring 2017. Thank you so much, Karen.