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Alma College Set to Offer First Graduate Degree

Award-winning writer Sophfronia Scott will lead low-residency master’s in creative writing program

Sophfronia ScottSophfronia ScottALMA — Alma College will soon begin offering its first graduate degree with the launch of a master of fine arts degree in creative writing, and has hired prolific writer Sophfronia Scott to lead the program.

The new MFA program is the first graduate degree Alma College has offered in its 134-year history. Its low-residency format is designed for students who want to continue working while earning a degree.

Participants will come together four times over the two-year curriculum to take part in 10 days of intensive lectures, workshops, readings and one-on-one time with a world-class team of visiting faculty members. After each residency, writers will return home to continue their studies one-on-one with a faculty mentor, creating and submitting packets of creative and critical work on a monthly basis. The end goal is the development of a graduate lecture and a creative thesis, leading to a substantial manuscript.

“This MFA program will attract a new kind of student to Alma,” said Kathleen Dougherty, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “The college has taken major steps to increase the diversity and inclusivity of our campus and the MFA program will take that to a whole new level.”

An Alma College strategic investment task force spent three years considering different areas of study to add to its offerings before selecting the MFA in creative writing. The task force considered the MFA to be a good fit because of Alma’s strength in the liberal arts, particularly its rich history in English studies.

Alma College President Jeff Abernathy said the low-residency MFA program is the only one of its kind in Michigan, as well as several other nearby states.

“To grow our first program in a core humanity like English is an incredible opportunity for us. We’re matching the needs of our society with the strengths of Alma College,” Abernathy said. “We have an opportunity within this program to build our reputation for excellence in the liberal arts.”

Scott, the program’s founding director, is the author of multiple novels, memoirs, and collections of essays, as well as of fiction and creative nonfiction works published in journals nationwide.

A graduate of Harvard University, she completed her MFA in Creative Writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She helped create and launch an MFA program at Regis University, in Colorado and has also taught in the MFA program at Bay Path University, in Massachusetts. Scott is the recipient of a 2020 Artist Fellowship Grant from the Connecticut Office of the Arts.

“I love the team feel of the college and the enthusiasm for the MFA program. I’m thrilled to be a part of this team and think we’re going to build something the entire college is proud of,” Scott said.

“I’m interested in bringing people together and helping them develop their creative voices,” she added. “The Alma MFA will be an amazing and supportive artistic community.”

Scott previously became acquainted with Alma College when she served as a guest writer in 2017, and her books have been taught in English courses at the college. A native of Lorain, Ohio, she now lives in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

“Sophfronia will be an inspiring director of the MFA program for Alma College. She brings a wealth of experience in MFA programs and she has a vision that will build Alma’s reputation across the country and beyond. That was very much our aspiration here,” Abernathy said.

If you are interested in learning more about the MFA program, please contact Scott at scotts@alma.edu or (989) 463-7176.

Story published on August 03, 2020