News Details

May 19, 2015

Chapman Clinches Third Irene McKinney Postgraduate Teaching Fellowship

Chris Chapman, a 2015 graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program, has been awarded the third annual Irene McKinney Postgraduate Teaching Fellowship.  Chapman, of Morgantown, WV, received his bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University in 1989.  He earned his Master of Fine Arts from Wesleyan this May after working in radio production for 25 years at WCLG in Morgantown.

While in the MFA program, Chapman focused his work primarily in the short story genre.  His thesis, Suicidal Gods, is a collection of eleven linked stories set in a fictional West Virginia town and country.

"My selection as the Irene McKinney Fellow means the world to me, both in what it represents practically, and for what it says about my work in the MFA program," stated Chapman.  "To have earned the confidence and trust of such an amazing Enlbish faculty is an incredible honor to me and not one that I would have ever thought to expect just a few, short years ago.  Practically, this fellowship is the mentored classroom experience I need in order to continue this rather unusual, mid-life shift in identity through which I seem to be moving.  It still feels strange referring to myself as a writer, or a teacher, after such a long time in a different vocation, but I will get used to it."

Chapman will be teaching two Composition courses and an Introduction to Literature course in the fall and three undetermined courses in the spring.  During his tenure, Chapman will be working under the supervision of Jessie van Eerden, MFA director.

“I am currently familiarizing myself with the textbooks, but, aside from the lesson plans, I have been thinking a lot about facilitating students' desire to learn the subjects,” Chapman said.  “I think if I have one over-arching goal at this point, it is to help all the students to find that desire.  Once a student wants the knowledge, the teaching is easy.  Perhaps it is just a fool's dream, but then again, I have had 25 years of advertising experience, so maybe I will be sneakier than one might imagine.”

Once the Fellowship is completed, Chapman hopes to stay in the Mountain State.

“I have always heard that announcing your plans is a sure way to hear God laugh, but my hopes are to work myself into an adjunct teaching position somewhere, preferably in West Virginia, and to continue working on my writing, here in the state that I love,” he said.

The Irene McKinney Postgraduate Teaching Fellowship is available to all graduates of the College’s MFA Program for up to three years after graduation.  The fellowship honors the founding director of the College’s MFA Program, Dr. Irene McKinney, Professor Emeritus and West Virginia Poet Laureate, who passed away in 2012.

For more information on the MFA program, please contact van Eerden at  Chapman's writing projects and most recent publications can be found at


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