Bill Lavender, director of UNO’s Low Res MFA, has been laid off
At UNO’s Post-graduate Publishing Forum in Edinburgh, which I attended in July, I discussed my novel with agents, attended talks about literary magazines, sketched out the opening chapter of my next novel, and stayed up late with the other students while we read our work to each other in the dormitory kitchen.
The conference turned out to be extremely useful to me professionally, Edinburgh was lovely, Sam and Stuart Kelly of Napier University, the on-site British teachers, were both brilliantly intelligent, and many of the programme’s students were exceptional writers.
However, before most of the students had returned to America, Bill Lavender, the director of this course and of UNO’s Low Residency Programme, was informed by the University of New Orleans that he had been laid off, for budgetary reasons.
I didn’t spend much time working with Bill, but his dedication to the low-residency programme was immediately obvious, as was the love and admiration he had earned from his students. Many find it hard to imagine UNO’s Low Res programme without him.
They have created a petition and a facebook page to oppose UNO’s decision. If you know Bill or the Low Res programme, please consider liking and signing. The petition has already gained over three hundred signatures.
Almost all of us students, at Scotland’s amazing neo-classical garden, Little Sparta. Bill is dimly visible in the centre-right, in a dark hat.