The Helen Zell Writers' Program is not a free-standing, M.F.A. Program. On the contrary, we are comfortably nestled within a vibrant English Department that possesses its own robust Ph.D. program, distinguished faculty, several hundred undergraduate majors, a splendid undergraduate honors program, and a full slate of lectures and events at which all of our writers and poets are welcome. Our students can, and do, take academic courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level. The creative writing and academic faculty work closely with one another. We teach together, do committee work together, and collectively defend, and advocate for, the importance of the written word, and the humanities, in our current world. Just as we aspire to share our "creative" ideas with our academic colleagues, we encourage our M.F.A. students to get to know their Ph.D. equivalents. In our view, such intermingling promotes the intellectual diversity to which we are committed on all levels, and breaks down divisions that can otherwise emerge between scholarly and artistic enterprises.
This does not mean that we lack autonomy as a program. Although our craft classes often welcome students from outside the Helen Zell Writers' Program, our fiction and poetry workshops are open only to our own students. And while nearly all of our readings are open to the public, our students enjoy the privilege of meeting in intimate settings with the many celebrated poets and writers whom we routinely bring to campus. We like to think that the community we foster is one that overlaps with, and draws productively from, our English Department, while at the same time maintaining its own particular (we might even be tempted to say quirky) personality. We also aspire to promote the intellectual curiosity of our students, and to provide them with as many opportunities as possible to satisfy such curiosity.