I came to the MFA Program with nearly 30 years’ experience in the business world. While I hold an MA in creative writing, co-founding this MFA Program gave me a new understanding of the term “academic excellence.” Working with Sena and Kathleen, I observe the care they take in creating each aspect of our program. “Is this pedagogically sound?” they ask. “Will this feature fully enhance the student’s learning experience?” They look at what is best for our students, and though this often makes my administrative life more complicated, I am in awe of the thought they give and the care they bring to the structure of the Program.
Academic excellence? Yes. We have it.Our Program goes beyond academic excellence: We nurture your creative spirit. Writing is very personal and the rewards are very personal. Being able to interact with people who understand that creative spirit is rare, yet at a residency, you are rubbing elbows with 150 people from all parts of the United States and other countries who have the same desire, the same impulse to write, the same interest in writing. Former faculty member Richard Goodman said, “It is like being in a foreign country where everyone speaks the same language.” Foreign because in our normal lives, most people do not understand why we “sit and stare” at a pad of paper or computer screen for hours; why we scribble down the great image that just popped in our head before we forget it; or why we need alone time to recharge our creative batteries.
As administrative director, I oversee all the details of the Program and the residency. The five of us develop the actual schedule for the residency and the semester, carefully ensuring that the opportunity for each student, no matter the area of concentration, is full and complete. We schedule about 1,000 classroom hours while our students are on campus, and we cram every hour of the day with multiple learning experiences. While Katy and Ellyn handle the details of the residency—meals, reception, housing, Workshop Booklets, handouts, graduation, and much more—I am in charge of marketing, budgeting, and overseeing the recruiting and admissions processes. If you call our office, you will talk to Katy or me. With enthusiasm created from belief in our Program, we will answer your questions. We are equally willing to email with you. We try to keep the lines of communication open with anyone who makes an inquiry by sending a letter series that tells about the Program.
Being a writer myself, I intimately understand the desire to write; I intimately understand your impulse to seek an MFA degree. Someday, when we stop tweaking this Program in an effort to perfect it, I may get a Spalding MFA myself!
Karen J. Mann
Administrative Director Karen J. Mann received an MA in higher education administration and an MA with creative writing concentration from the University of Louisville and her bachelors in English literature from Indiana University, Bloomington. Karen’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in several anthologies. She is the recipient of two grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Karen’s business experience includes working as a service representative for Indiana Bell, controller and part-owner of a homebuilding company, and publications specialist for a large church. She has two books: The Saved Mann: First Century (Page Turner Publishers, 2014) and The Woman of La Mancha (Fleur-de-Lis Press 2014), a companion book to Don Quixote. Read more about her books at http://karenmannwrites.com