Mississippi University for Women has received a letter dated August 13, 2015, from Dr. Belle S. Wheelan, President of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, acknowledging the receipt of all supporting documentation of our proposal to implement the Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing and approving the program to begin in August 2015. The program is approved as “within the scope of the current accreditation.”

This timely approval represents the final stage of a two-year process, which included approval of the proposal to plan the program in May 2014 and approval of the program application by the Board of the Institutes of Higher Learning of the State of Mississippi in November 2014. The program is ready to open its virtual doors for the start of classes on August 20, 2015, with 11 graduate students admitted and 3 visiting faculty. Five classes will be offered this semester: Graduate Poetry Workshop, Graduate Fiction Workshop, Writing for New Media, Forms of Drama, and the first Short Residency in Writing, which will be held on-campus in conjunction with the 27th annual  Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium, October 22-24.

We are extremely grateful for the support of the W administration throughout the proposal process, and for the faculty and students who have placed their trust in our program. With classes about to begin, it is time to live up to that trust. New faculty include:

Kris Lee of Starkville, will teach Forms of Drama. Mr. Lee recently received his MFA in Playwriting from Spalding University’s low-residency prgram. He has a certificate in new play development from the New York Theatre Intensives/Ensemble Studio Theater, and a Masters of Education from Mississippi State University. His plays have won awards from the Mississippi Theatre Association, the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival in New Orleans, and Algonquin/ITAP. He has also published short fiction and poems.

Mary Miller of Oxford, MS, will teach the Graduate Fiction Workshop. Ms. Miller holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the Michener Center for Writing at University of Texas at Austin. She was John Grisham Visiting Writer at Ole Miss in 2014-15. She presented at the Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium, and has published the novel The Last Days of California and the story collections Big World and Less Shiny.

Shayla Lawson of Portland, OR, will teach the Graduate Poetry Workshop. Ms. Lawson is a recent graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at the University of Indiana. She was also a participant in last year’s Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium and has published a collection of poetry and ephemera A Speed Education in Human Being.

Dr. Kendall Dunkelberg will direct the new program and teach Writing for New Media and the Short Residency in Writing. He has taught at Mississippi University for Women for over 20 years and was instrumental in establishing the Creative Writing Concentration and Minor. He directs the Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium and has published two books of poems, Landscapes and Architectures and Time Capsules, as well as a book of poetry in translation Hercules, Richelieu, and Nostradamus. His third book of poems, Barrier Island Suite, is forthcoming in 2016.