Best-selling horror author and University of Maine graduate Stephen King is being honored with an endowed chair in his name at the Orono school, thanks to a $1 million gift from the Alfond Foundation.

The Stephen E. King Chair in Literature will support a faculty position in the English department, and a search to fill the position will begin this fall, officials said Tuesday.

“Stephen and Tabitha King have been generous supporters of their alma mater for many years,” said UMaine President Susan Hunter. “It is now particularly rewarding to have a prestigious gift such as this that will inspire and influence current and future generations of readers and writers.”

King, of Bangor, was awarded the National Medal of Arts – considered the government’s highest award given to artists – last September by President Barack Obama.

A prolific writer, King is known for both heft and horror, writing such works as “It,” “Carrie,” and “The Shining.”

“The Harold Alfond Foundation is delighted to make this grant in honor of Stephen King and in support of Maine’s flagship university,” said Greg Powell, chairman of the Alfond Foundation’s Board of Trustees. “This chaired professorship is a tribute to Mr. King’s outstanding literary accomplishments and his deep commitment to Maine.”

King graduated from the University of Maine at Orono in 1970, with a B.A. in English. His website notes that he met Tabitha in the stacks of the Fogler Library at UMaine, where they both worked as students and which today holds a collection of King’s papers.

Over the years, the Kings have donated to the university, including a $4 million, four-year grant in 1997 that funded $1,000 student scholarships in the name of Edward H. Holmes, King’s creative writing professor at UMaine.

Harold Alfond and the Harold Alfond Foundation have given more than $19 million in gifts and pledges to UMaine, including naming gifts for Alfond Sports Arena and Alfond Stadium.