McKinney Postgraduate Teaching Fellowship

This fellowship honors the founding director of WV Wesleyan’s MFA Program by offering a graduate of the program the opportunity to gain teaching experience in close mentorship with practiced faculty.

2018-19 INTERIM FELLOW: Christopher Chapman
ChrisChris Chapman is a 2015 graduate of the MFA program at West Virginia Wesleyan College. While in the program he worked primarily in the form of the short story. His thesis, Suicidal Gods, a collection of eleven linked stories set in a fictional West Virginia town and county, is slated for publication with Unsolicited Press in 2019. In terms of literature, Chris’s tastes are wide. Some contemporary writers he enjoys are Alex Taylor, Neela Vaswani, Pinckney Benedict, and Tom Franklin. He also loves John Gardner, Herman Hesse, Kurt Vonnegut, and Italo Calvino. Chris earned his BA from WVU in 1989 and went on to work in radio production for 25 years at WCLG in Morgantown. He began working on his fiction again in 2012 and has been published several times.

Former McKinney Fellows:

Ginny Rachel, 2017-18

Christopher Chapman, 2015-2017, 2018-19

Ashley Higginbotham, 2014-15

Zach Williams, 2013-14


The Irene McKinney Postgraduate Teaching Fellowship is available to all graduates of the West Virginia Wesleyan College MFA Program for up to 3 years after graduation. The fellow will teach six undergraduate courses during the academic year—typically, three Composition I courses in the fall, and two Composition II courses and a 100-level Introduction to Literature or Creative Writing course in the spring, with possible variation depending on English Department needs; s/he will also offer a literary reading on campus in the spring. The fellow will work under the supervision of the MFA Director and English Department Chair, will meet regularly with a mentor and undergo at least two classroom observations, and will receive a stipend of $16,500. The fellow will be required to live in the Buckhannon area (or at reasonable commuting distance which allows the fellow to hold a minimum of 5 office hours weekly) from the mid-August New Faculty Orientation to the early-May Final Grades due date during the fellowship year.

Timeline for application process: The fellow must have the MFA degree in hand before the fellowship year. To comply with Final Deposit of Thesis deadlines and MFA degree conferral dates, fall thesis students are eligible to apply the March following their Fifth Residency. For example, a Fall 2014 thesis student may apply for the fellowship as early as March 2015. Spring thesis students are eligible to apply as early as the March during their thesis semester, so, for example, a Spring 2015 thesis student may apply as early as March 2015.

An applicant should submit the following:

1) letter of application which discusses:

–relevant teaching/work experience (applicants with no teaching experience will be considered)

–areas of expertise and interest in writing and literature

–current writing projects

2) teaching philosophy for basic composition

3) drafted syllabus for a Composition I course and sketch of an Introduction to Literature course

4) current CV

5) writing sample of no more than 20 pages of prose, 10 pages of poetry

An applicant must also have two letters of recommendation addressing his or her experience/potential as a teacher mailed or emailed directly to the MFA Director. One letter of recommendation may be submitted by Wesleyan MFA core or visiting faculty; the other letter must come from outside the program.

While the fellowship may be received only once, and while we prioritize new applicants so to offer teaching experience to as many as our alumni as possible, current fellows may apply to renew for a second consecutive year. Also, previous applicants who were not awarded the fellowship are permitted to reapply. Those who reapply–along with current fellows applying to renew–may elect to use letters of recommendation already on file, though all other materials should be refreshed. Applications will be reviewed and finalists chosen by the MFA Director and core MFA faculty; advancing candidates may be interviewed by phone or Skype. The final decision will be made by the English Chair, in consultation with the MFA Director and with the approval of the Dean of the College.

Applications must be received by March 1 for the following academic year; a decision will be made by April 1.

Electronic submissions are required. Application materials should be sent in a single Word or PDF file to Jessie van Eerden, MFA Director at, indicating McKinney Fellowship Application in the subject line. Letters of recommendation should be sent directly to Jessie van Eerden via email or mail: West Virginia Wesleyan College; 59 College Avenue, Box 46; Buckhannon, WV 26201.