MFA boosts EOU, region

By Observer editorial November 12, 2012 01:46 pm
Of all the innovative ideas to come along in our community lately, Eastern Oregon University’s new master of fine arts degree in creative writing ranks among the best. Look for it to do good things both for the University, and the community at large.

The State Board of Higher Education  approved the degree in October. With that hurdle cleared, university officials have a green light to implement the low residency program that will combine distance learning with intensive residencies held in June and January of the year. Applications are being accepted now, with the program set to launch in June, 2013.

It’s an idea that’s been cooking at Eastern for years, and one whose time came about a year ago when faculty members David Axelrod and Jody Varon pitched a formal proposal. The idea gained traction when James Crew, editor at “basalt,” Eastern’s literary magazine, suggested the low residency model that offers flexibility for students with jobs and families. 

In concert with the on-line studies, the residencies will provide opportunity for face-to-face interaction and learning. Those two-week gatherings will include writing workshops, genre seminars, service learning courses, courses on editing and publishing, and more. Planned for 2014 is a wilderness writing institute. What better place than the top right corner of Oregon?

Eastern is lining up mentors, talking to well-known writers from around the region whose presence will help propel the program to success.  The university is reporting that the program is attracting inquiries from writers and students from around the country. 

The academic resources here are top-notch and close at hand, and the setting is beautiful.Those who sign on will quickly come to see that La Grande is a great place to begin or advance a writing career.  

It’s easy to see this program growing and succeeding, attracting poets, novelists, journalists and other people of letters from far and near. 

Writers finding inspiration here are sure to tell others. As the program does grow, so will the reputation of Northeast Oregon.