Dear MFA Students,
Please join me in thanking Holly for her excellent service to the MFA program this past year. Holly came into the position at a time that turned out to be unexpectedly challenging, and she handled her post with dignity and professionalism. I am grateful to her (thanks, Holly!), and I appreciate her stick-to-it-iveness.
I will be taking the reins back officially on June 1, but I already am phasing back in. I hope you will feel free to contact me any time with questions about the changes in the program or the direction of the program. I am available at any time to discuss your academic progress or any concerns you have.
I know there have been changes to the program that you certainly didn't expect this time last year; none of us expected them. We all will miss Don, Paola, and Elizabeth a great deal; they've been essential to your success and to the success of the program's graduates over its first six years. But I want to reassure you that my intention is to offer an August residency (and a program in general) that is as close as possible to what you've had in the past. I'm glad that Mark, Daniel, and Dan have all decided to continue teaching in the program and that Daniel and Dan will be at the residencies. We all appreciate their dedication to you and to the program.
At the August residency we will have the usual complement of workshops, lectures, panels, and readings. As per the usual August plan, we will have a panel of agents to speak with you about the state of the publishing business and to meet individually with our outgoing thesis students and rising thesis students. Holly has recently put out a call for workshop suggestions, and I hope you'll let us know what you're interested in seeing on the schedule. We also will have regular visiting writers at future residencies; two visitors will join us in August, and one of them will be Rick Moody (the other will be a nonficiton writer).
As for other changes, I must report that due to cost cutting measures, the university will no longer be providing dinners at the residency. The usual breakfast will be available at the hotel, if you choose to stay at the Maron. The university will provide the usual morning coffee and lunch. You will need to be prepared to arrange for dinner yourselves; we will provide you with a list of local restaurants that you might choose to patronize, and, of course, there is the supermarket next door to the hotel. We will add extra time into the schedule to allow plenty of time for the evening meal. I know that meal times traditionally have been a great opportunity for socializing, networking, consulting with mentors, and working through your ideas. I hope that the lunch hour will continue to provide that opportunity.
Beyond those changes, and that fact that all events will be held on campus for the foreseeable future residencies, the residency should provide essentially the same experience you've had in the past. And, of course, you'll still have perhaps the most important part of the residency--your interaction with peers.
I look forward to seeing you in August. Meanwhile, please do not hesitate to contact me with any concerns whatsoever.