Friday, August 03, 2007

AULA on the Top Five List

Antioch University's MFA program ranks among the top five Low Residency programs in the nation, according to the recent issue of The Atlantic.

In "The Best of the Best: A guide to graduate programs in creative writing," Edward J. Delaney honors Antioch along with the two Vermont colleges (Bennington and Vermont), Pacific University and Warren Wilson.

Antioch's MFA in Creative Writing Program was founded by Eloise Klein Healy and is now chaired by Steve Heller. The university is located in Culver City on the outskirts of Los Angeles, and is not to be confused with the mother campus in Yellow Springs, OH, which recently closed its doors.

Poetry, Creative Nonfiction and Fiction are the specialized areas of study in Antioch's Low Res MFA with a required course of Poetry Translation. Students can genre jump or carry dual genre specialiazations.

Faculty mentors at Antioch include Jenny Factor, Richard Garcia, Carol Potter, Susan Taylor Chehak, Aino Paasonen, Sharman Apt Russell, Emily Rapp, Alma Luz Villanueva, Tara Ison, Leonard Chang and Amy Sage Webb.

The university also includes a Post-MFA pedagogy program offering a Certificate in Teaching of Creative Writing. More recently, Antioch announced an affiliated four-year degree program leading to a Certificate in Publishing Arts.

As a current MFA student at Antioch, I'm happy the program has gained this recognition. It's well-earned. The program has integrated modernization with a supremely well-organized residency and project period while modelling Horace Mann's call to social justice and service to humanity. Its faculty are first-rate, diverse in their accomplishments, influencing students with intelligence, tenderness,toughness. The sum of its parts are the program cohorts - individuals bonded through a single motivation - to write well.

Significantly absent from The Atlantic's list of lists is Goddard College, which premiered the low residency program under the leadership of Ellen Bryant Voigt before she moved to Warren Wilson. Always a college on the fringe, never one to absorb conventional modes of education, Goddard celebrates diversity and innovation in the same spirit as Antioch. And yet, some important things were missing during my brief enrollment this June: clarity of communication, access to the program director, a visible pattern of organization, respect for student preferences.

I didn't need The Atlantic to validate my decision to rejoin Antioch's program. But the news was a pleasant confirmation of my choice.


Anonymous said...

I was interested in your post because I've been accepted to both Goddard and Antioch. Can you tell me any more about your experiences and why Antioch was so much better for you? Were there any particular faculty members at either place that were particularly good (or not so good) to work with? If you would prefer to respond privately, you can email me: effemmell AT hotmail DOT com

Ann said...

anonymous -

I loved VT but didn't feel "at home" during the residency at Goddard. I also didn't have a good opportunity to evaluate the faculty first-hand.

My decision ultimately resulted from serious issues having to do with communication and access to the program director.

As a transfer student, it wasn't until I had enrolled and traveled to VT for the residency that I was told I'd have to redo major components of my graduate work - the field study and short paper.

Even then, the info came from one of the faculty, not the program director. This was after writing him for months prior to the residency, and attempting to meet with him at the residency for that important piece of information. We never did meet.

That was unacceptable. That's why I chose to return to Antioch, which by the way,is very responsive to students, has a fine faculty and a very well-run residency and project period.

Good luck in your grad studies!