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Longtime Alma English Professor Joins MFA Faculty

Robert Vivian will explore concepts involving the environment and its connection to writing

ALMA — Students in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at Alma College will have a new addition to their faculty roster, a well-published author from the college’s own English department.

Robert Vivian, professor of English, who has taught at Alma College since 2001, has joined the faculty of the college’s MFA program. In his new role, Vivian will continue teaching undergraduates at Alma while also working with MFA students.

“We’re absolutely thrilled that Bob Vivian has agreed to join the MFA faculty,” said Sophfronia Scott, director of the Alma College MFA in Creative Writing program. “Having a connection between the MFA and the college’s English Department is important and Bob will help facilitate that. He is also a wonderful teacher who has inspired so many students, both undergraduates and graduates, in his long and successful career.”

Vivian is the author of 10 books and numerous short stories, articles, plays, essays and poems. His latest work, “All I Feel is Rivers: Dervish Essays,” was published in 2021 by the University of Nebraska Press. In addition to being a professor at Alma, Vivian for many years has been a faculty member at the Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA) MFA in Writing program.

“Under the incredible leadership of Sophfronia Scott, I am so excited to join Alma’s new MFA program,” Vivian said. “In a profound way, it feels like coming home. I’m so grateful for my life-changing experience at VCFA, but I feel it’s time to offer whatever humble gifts I have to the new program at Alma.”

Scott said Vivian will guide the program as it explores concepts involving the environment; both in considering the environment as a setting as well as what it means to write about the world around us.

“Bob is specifically going to take up that mantle — lecturing on place, but also conducting several workshops that will focus on the environment through fly fishing in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter. It’s a vibrant part of the program that we have discussed before, and we’re excited to begin,” Scott said.

Vivian holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from the University of Nebraska-Omaha, as well as a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The MFA program, which launched in 2021, is the first graduate degree Alma College has offered in its 135-year history. Its low-residency format is designed for students who want to continue working while earning a degree. The program recently concluded its first winter residency, at the Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center in Roscommon. The next summer residency, which takes place in Alma, is scheduled for June 16-26.

Story published on January 21, 2022