By Dale J Rappaneau Jr Contributing Writer
In response to UMF’s unsuccessful search for a tenure-track Creative Writing professor, Eric Brown, Interim Provost and VP for Academic Affairs, remains confident in the program’s academic strength and ability to find a quality candidate to fill the role.
“UMF values highly its creative writing program, which continues to draw exceptional students from around the country,” wrote Brown in an email. “While we were unable to hire a tenure-track position for the coming year, we will continue to offer screenwriting courses next fall and spring.”
Brown’s specific mention of screenwriting stems from the fact that Bill Mesce, Associate Professor of Creative Writing, who currently teaches the screenwriting courses, was among the candidates unsuccessful in securing the tenure-track position. As a result, students have speculated on the state of screenwriting and its place in the creative writing program.
“Screenwriting is a unique component of the program, offering opportunities for the study of a genre not widely offered elsewhere in the state of Maine,” Brown said. “I regard screenwriting as a potential difference-maker for our program, appealing to students not only as a distinct genre, but as a gateway to further work in the film industry, and I see the coming year as crucial in defining the best way of supporting that at UMF.”
Jeff Thomson, Professor of Creative Writing, echoes Brown’s sentiments, stating that the creative writing program is the school’s “jewel program” and that screenwriting is an essential part of the program. He added, “Pat [O’Donnell] and I are going to rethink and rework the screenwriting position and do another search in the fall.”
At the time of writing, screenwriting courses are being offered for the Fall 2018 semester, despite the program’s continued search for a professor to teach those courses. “We don’t have an official contract in place yet so I can’t say for certainty,” wrote Brown, “but, again, the plan going forward is to have staffing for those courses, and I expect we will have it resolved positively in the next week or so.”
Linda Britt, Chair of the Division of Humanities, rallied behind the creative writing program and saw the unsuccessful tenure-track search as unreflective of the program’s strength and long-lasting academic appeal. “The creative writing program is strong and popular, and it has an excellent reputation in the field,” Britt wrote in an email. “The program will be here for far longer than you or I will.”
The Fall 2018 screenwriting course, as detailed in the MaineStreet course catalog, will take place every Wednesday, from 3:10 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and the instructor in charge of the course is simply detailed as “Staff.”