UM Creative Writing Director Honored For Commitment to Inclusivity

The UM Graduate School has honored creative writing director Derrick Harriell with the Excellence in Promoting Inclusiveness in Graduate Education Award. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Harriell, who also directs the university’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, is the recipient of the Excellence in Promoting Inclusiveness in Graduate Education Award. Through his teaching in the undergraduate and graduate levels, Harriell ensures that he includes materials in his lessons that spark conversations about historically overlooked and marginalized communities.

“I’m comfortable having the tough conversations and always try to create an environment where my students’ voices and perspectives are appreciated and heard,” he said. “To receive this award is an extremely high honor and really illustrates the ways that my work and dedication to our program is recognized.”

The professor was recognized during the Graduate School’s hooding ceremony Friday (May 11) at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

The university’s graduate program is widely publicized through word of mouth by successful students and through social media recruitment, Harriell said, adding that he wants prospective students to know their opinions will be valued.

“I’m committed to our diversity and inclusiveness goals and maintain a heightened awareness of how we can always work to better attract the brightest graduate students from all over the world,” he said. “This recognition is really one for our students and our fine M.F.A. faculty here at the University of Mississippi.

“Moving our program forward has and will always be a collective undertaking. I’m thrilled to work with so many wonderful individuals.”

Beth Ann Fennelly, English professor and the university’s previous M.F.A. director, built an inclusive program to attract students from around the world to study creative writing, said Ivo Kamps, chair of the Department of English. Harriell has continued to build on that foundation, he said.

“Professor Harriell is not only a talented and accomplished poet, but he’s also a great mentor to our students and an energetic and creative leader of our M.F.A. program,” Kamps said. “He has done an incredible job leading the M.F.A. program and making it the diverse and inclusive program it must be.”

By Christina Steube

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