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COLUMBUS, Miss.—With recent approval from its accrediting agency, Mississippi University for Women this fall is offering its first-ever classes in a new low-residency master of fine arts in creative writing.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges approved the program as part of the scope of current accreditation, reaffirmed for the university last year. In its inaugural year, the MFA program, unique in Mississippi, has 11 students enrolled.

Formal approval from SACSCOC is the culmination of a two-year process that began in 2014 with permission to plan granted by the state Institutions of Higher Learning.

"This is a 48-hour program that can be completed in two to three years, or longer for part-time students," said Dr. Kendall Dunkelberg, program director. Students take online classes, combined with two types of brief residency classes, short (1-hour) hands-on courses or full residency courses (2 hours) that include intense workshop sessions and seminars on the profession of creative writing.

In addition to Dunkelberg, three visiting faculty members will teach five fall-semester courses: graduate poetry workshop, graduate fiction workshop, writing for new media, forms of drama, and the first short residency in writing, to be held at The W in conjunction with the Oct. 22-24 Eudora Welty Writers" Symposium.

"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," Dunkelberg said.

Faculty members are:

Kris Lee of Starkville, who will teach forms of drama. Lee received his MFA in playwriting from Spalding University"s low-residency program. He has a certificate in new play development from the New York Theatre Intensives/Ensemble Studio Theater, and a master"s 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 also has published short fiction and poems.

Mary Miller of Oxford, who will teach the graduate fiction workshop. Miller holds an MFA in creative writing from the Michener Center for Writing at the University of Texas at Austin. She was John Grisham Visiting Writer at Ole Miss in 2014-15 and was a featured writer at last year"s Eudora Welty Writers" Symposium. She is the author of the novel "The Last Days of California" and the short story collections "Big World" and "Less Shiny."

Shayla Lawson of Portland, Ore., who will teach the graduate poetry workshop. Lawson is a graduate of the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Indiana and was a participant in the 2014 Eudora Welty Writers" Symposium. She has published a collection of poetry and ephemera, "A Speed Education in Human Being."

Dr. Kendall Dunkelberg, program director, will teach writing for new media and the short residency in writing. He has taught at The W for more than 20 years and was instrumental in establishing the undergraduate 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.

For more information about the low-residency MFA in creative writing, see http://www.muw.edu/mfacreativewriting.