April 27, 2011

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By Christina Masciere Wallace

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Assistant Professor of English G.C. Waldrep has been selected as the first recipient of the Margaret Hollinshead Ley Professorship in Poetry and Creative Writing at Bucknell University, Provost Mick Smyer announced today.

The professorship is intended to advance the reading, writing and appreciation of creative poetry and prose in the day-to-day experience of all Bucknell students, in all academic disciplines. The five-year appointment provides support and compensation for the recipient as well as extra funding for scholarship and research expenses. It is the gift of the late Margaret "Peggy" Ley, Class of '60, who died in March.

"Mrs. Ley cared deeply about using the richness of language to express ideas," said Smyer. "Her passion for poetry and creative writing as part of a comprehensive liberal arts education will live on through this generous gift.  We are extremely grateful, and we are honored to carry forward her legacy."

Seminar for Younger Poets
Waldrep, who joined Bucknell in 2007, teaches creative poetry and directs the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets. 

"This award recognizes Professor Waldrep's talents as a poet and his dedication to integrating poetry into broader conversations across the University," said President John Bravman. "The activities he proposed for this position are precisely the kind of work that Mrs. Ley hoped to inspire with her gift."

Waldrep has published four volumes of poetry and won 11 major awards, including the Dorset Prize and the Pushcart Prize.  He holds a doctorate in American history from Duke University and a master of fine arts from the Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa. 

Drawing on life experiences
"My background in social science and interest in astrophysics attract me to poetry that draws on life experiences and knowledge bases beyond literature," said Waldrep. "In my creative-writing classes, I teach a lot of students from majors outside of English," most notably neurobiology and animal behavior.

Waldrep plans to use part of his Ley funding to create writing workshops for engineering and pre-med students.  He also plans to explore the possibility of course credit for intensive, short-term writing workshops to increase their appeal to such students.

"The Ley professorship highlights and brings distinction to our outstanding creative writing program," said Professor John Rickard, department chair. "It will provide many opportunities for the English Department and our creative writing program to reach out to other disciplines and demonstrate the enrichment that the creative arts bring to all fields of study and endeavor. G.C.'s service in this position will allow Bucknellians and those in the local community to work with a highly successful and prolific artist who is also an inspirational teacher."

Endowed academic positions, including chairs, professorships and scholars-in-residence, are among the University's top strategic priorities. Such positions provide faculty members with valuable opportunities to pursue in-depth scholarship, create new courses, fund research projects, travel to academic conferences and more. They help universities attract new faculty members and retain current ones.

Waldrep's appointment begins Sept. 1. 

Contact: Division of Communications