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November 07, 2008
Vol. 50 No. 9

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Writers Institute receives funding for future aid

The Writers Institute, the creative writing program at Susquehanna, recently received several scholarships to provide financial aid to incoming freshman in the 2009-10 academic year.

"[The scholarships] are like athletic scholarships in that we can attract the best writers to the program," said Dr. Gary Fincke, director of the Writers Institute and English professor.

According to the Institute's Web site, these scholarships are funded in part by Susquehanna and also by the Degenstein Foundation. There are as many as four $15,000 Janet Weis Writers Institute Scholarships awarded each year to outstanding portfolio applicants, according to the Web site.

According to Fincke, the scholarships were discussed mid-summer and the Institute found out earlier this semester that the scholarships were approved.

In order to be eligible, high school students send portfolios to Susquehanna, which are then reviewed by a faculty panel, Fincke said.

According to the Web site, students must submit a 10 to 12 page portfolio of their work from fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction or a combination of these genres. The entries must be submitted by Feb. 15. If selected, the students will be notified no later than March 15, according to the Web site.

The scholarship is renewable for four years, as long as a student maintains a 3.2 grade point average as a creative writing major, Fincke said.

"I want to put a high standard of expectation on students in order for them to succeed," Fincke said.

The Writers Institute has been steadily growing since its inception in the 1996-97 academic year. In that year, there were only nine creative writing majors, which has since grown to 144 majors during the 2008-09 academic year, according to the Web site.

"One of the most exciting things is that there are 45 freshmen creative writing majors this year, bringing our total more than 140 students," Fincke said.

According to a press release written by the Office of Communications announcing the scholarships, "The institute was recently featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and writer Robert Boswell (Century's Son, Mystery Ride, and Crooked Hearts) says unequivocally, 'Susquehanna University has the best undergraduate writing program in the United States.'"

Two recent alumni have also had success in their writing careers, Fincke said. Katie Pierce '00 won a national book prize in poetry this year and Jay Varner '03 recently signed a contract for a memoir to come out next year.

Fincke added that every student who applied to graduate school last year was accepted and that in the past, students have been accepted into distinguished graduate programs such as those at the University of Ohio and Columbia University.

The accomplishments of students and faculty being featured in national publications has helped the Institute grow and be recognized, according to the Web site.

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