News Details

April 18, 2016

Chapman Receives Irene McKinney Postgraduate Teaching Fellowship for Second Year

Chris Chapman, a 2015 graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program, has been awarded the fourth annual Irene McKinney Postgraduate Teaching Fellowship.  Chapman, of Morgantown, WV, was awarded the Fellowship last year, making him the first recipient to be re-awarded.  He received his bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University in 1989.  He earned his Master of Fine Arts from Wesleyan in May 2015 after working in radio production for 25 years at WCLG in Morgantown.

Chapman will continue with the classes he taught last year, which were two composition courses, Introduction to Literature, and a Short Fiction course, and he will again be working under the supervision of Jessie van Eerden, MFA director.  During his tenure as a student in the MFA program, Chapman focused his work primarily in the short story genre.

As a first-year teacher, Chapman was excited when he heard he would receive the Fellowship again.

“I am not privy to the decision-making process,” he stated, “but on the whole, the year of teaching seemed to go very well.  I imagine that had some part in it.”

In his first year of teaching, Chapman had no established methodology.  However, through Wesleyan’s orientation program and some personal research, he quickly found interesting strategies to use.

“Thanks to Wesleyan’s great orientation program and a seminar from Chris Anson at North Carolina State University, I was exposed to a lot of technological options, which fit me,” he said.  “Coming from a radio background, I was familiar with adapting to new software, and Dr. Anson’s seminar provided me with a method of critiquing student work utilizing screen-capture videos.  In these videos, I could comment verbally on their essays as I scrolled through them on the screen.  The students seemed to respond very positively to this method.”

The new, unique teaching methods helped Chapman’s students really focus on their task-at-hand.

“I truly enjoyed connecting with students, helping them to see the value in their writing skills, and helping them find a reason to read and love literature,” Chapman stated.  “It is an incomparable feeling when a classroom of students “gets it,” and I was lucky enough to see that a few times.”

As for next year, Chapman is excited to have some experience to build upon.

“My excitement for next year stems from those students who get it,” he said.  “Most of my first-year problems will be behind me, and I can concentrate on tweaking my system and being a better teacher overall.”

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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