Converse Low Residency MFA Founder, Rick Mulkey, is taking a well-deserved sabbatical this fall semester. While Mulkey had intended to step down, the college negotiated an agreement that ensured he would maintain his position for a few years longer with the assistance of a half-time associate director to help with the administrative workload. The position will help with planning and recruitment efforts, and the associate director will assist students and faculty during the residency sessions. Recently, it was announced that Sarah Gray was hired as the Converse College Low Residency MFA program’s Associate Director.
Gray is a graduate of the MFA fiction program. In fact, she was part of the program’s very first cohort of MFA students. For a number of years, she successfully directed the Converse College Young Writers Summer Workshop for high school students. In addition, she was the founding editor-in-chief of the MFA program’s South 85 Journal, and she has taught writing, literature and creative writing courses for the Converse College English Department for several years.
Sarah will focus on a number of tasks for the program. She’ll take a lead with social media platforms, with new recruiting strategies, with alumni outreach, and with aspects of residency planning, to name only a few. While Mulkey is on sabbatical this summer and fall, Sarah will direct the summer residency session. MFA faculty member Denise Duhamel has also agreed to act as a co-director during the Summer residency session, and she will assist Sarah.
The Converse College Low Residency MFA Program was started by Mulkey and fellow founder/mentor, Susan Tekulve. They two wanted to create a supportive and creative environment for MFA students looking to improve their skills as artists. Mulkey hopes that in coming years, the program will maintain its original purpose while the student population grows.
“We’re a small, selective program, and I would hate to see our low residency MFA program become like so many with such large numbers of participants that faculty and students don’t really know one another. I think there is something special about a smaller low residency MFA. It provides the intellectual and creative atmosphere of much larger programs, but has the intimate mentoring and support of the best small residential programs,” Mulkey said. “Still, I’d like to see us grow by about a third in all genres. I think that will allow us to continue to have the same kind of selective program we have now, but will allow for even more mentoring opportunities and scholarship opportunities for our students. I’m hopeful the new associate director position will help with this enrollment growth. In addition, I’m hopeful that our alumni, who continue to find writing success, will recommend and send prospective Converse MFA students our way.”
Katie Sherman is a freelance journalist in Charlotte, NC. She is currently pursing an MFA degree at Converse College. She has an affinity for Southern Gothic literature, cider beer, Chicago, and morning snuggles with her girls — Ella and Addie.