Ashland University’s MFA Residency Draws Writers and Students from Across the Nation
Readings and workshops by renowned memoirist Tobias Wolff and Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Natasha Trethewey highlighted the Ashland University Master in Fine Arts Summer Residency July 24-Aug. 7 that was attended by 53 students from 24 states.
This was the first residency for 24 incoming students; within two years the summer intensives will be at its full capacity of 72 students. The summer residency also featured 10 honored visiting Ashland University faculty from around the nation who teach graduate courses online for the university during the regular semesters and join their students on the Ashland University campus during the residency.
These highly accomplished writers and teachers presented craft seminars during the fortnight, taught classes and workshops, and read from their own poetry and nonfiction at public events.
This year’s residency saw nine students successfully defend their creative theses and they were awarded the MFA in Creative Writing. Ashland’s MFA program has achieved a 100 percent student retention rate over four semesters (one student has taken a medical leave of absence) and is meeting or exceeding all enrollment targets since its inception more than three years ago.
Nonfiction writer Brenda Miller and poet Richard Jackson joined Wolff and Trethewey on the visiting faculty, as did editors Tom Larson, Enid Shomer and David Groff, all widely published authors in their own right. This year’s residency also featured an art gallery opening and reception coordinated by Cynthia Petry and featuring the work of Catherine Kirby and Erica Meuser. Guitarist Brady Earnhart and cellist Rebecca Maxon presented a Friday night concert in Redwood Hall at the residency program’s midpoint.
Ashland University regular faculty and staff involved in the MFA are Dr. Stephen Haven, MFA director; Dr. Dan Lehman, resident faculty mentor who is acting as MFA director this semester while Haven is on senior study leave; and Sarah Wells, administrative director of the program and coordinator of the summer residency program.
Ashland University Graduate School Dean Dr. Greg Gerrick praised the nine graduating students on their achievements at a graduation celebration on Friday, Aug. 6. At the ceremony, Haven also challenged the graduates to make writing a way of life—habitually setting aside the time for the necessary reflection and hard work that makes a writing life possible and rewarding.