Thursday, February 15, 2007

Cal State Fresno

I'm very happy to be able to say that I've been offered and I've accepted a tenure track job at the California State University in Fresno. I taught there for a semester a few years back, and I've stayed in touch with the program since. When I heard a position had finally opened up there I applied, went through the longish process, interviewed, drove out for a visit, etc. Anyway, it worked out. They made a wonderful offer and we negotiated a little bit until it was even better, and then I said yes. So that's done.

One factor that made Fresno very attractive was/is the faculty. They're quality writers but also kind, intelligent, nice people, supportive of their students and their colleagues. You'd be surprised how rarely all those characteristics go together in one packet. On the fiction side of things I'm working with Steve Yarbrough, whose work I've admired for some time. The poets are Corrinne Clegg Hales and Tim Skeen, and working in nonfiction there's John Hales, Lillian Faderman and Steven Church. The program was also the long time home of Pulitzer and National Book Award winner Philip Levine.

And now they've got me. You could check out their blog for news items.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, congrats, that's great news. And, yeah, working with Steve Yarbourgh, that's cool. That's a heck of a pair of teachers, you and Steve. They're lucky to have snagged such good writers.


9:29 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...


Thanks. I am very happy about it, and, so far, I feel valued by the program. Steve is going to be heading it starting this fall and he's lots of ideas on making the program nationally top-notch. I'm all of helping with that.

Not many programs have two fiction writers that are actively publishing as much as Steve and I. Steve produces a book every two or three years. They're always solid and well-received, with several international editions of each. I'm about to see my fourth book in six years and, so far, I'm published in seven foreign languages and in Britain. The teaching load I'll have at Fresno should mean I'll be able to keep writing, but it'll also mean I'll be able to continue teaching. I like that. I want to see aspiring writers grow and prosper. And, if they do, I want to able to help them launch their careers. And I know Steve feels the same.

So keep an eye on Fresno, and if you know any aspiring writers ask them to give us a look.



10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I remember when I researched grad schools and writing programs none of the teachers seemed to be published or even successful, but Fresno has it good. Two really strong writers. Loved Steve's POW. Maybe after I snag my MAT I could talk my wife into moving back to the West Coast so I could pursue that coveted masters in writing. David is it a MA or MFA?

3:38 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...


The program at Cal State Fresno leads to an MFA. I have to admit I've never been entirely sure what the difference between an MA and a MFA is. I've read the definition, but often the definitions seem to clash, and often programs seem pretty much the same regardless of whether they're MA's or MFA's.

I guess what it comes down to is that an MFA is a terminal degree. You get one and that should be that. Done. You've got the academic credential to teach. (The publishing credential is a different story, though.) Get an MA and people might ask where you're going to continue your studies heading for a PhD.

Even this distinction doesn't quite hold up anymore, though. I know a lot of MFA's who head straight from there into PhD programs...

But, anyway, you didn't ask for all that. Fresno is an MFA program - all the degree anybody should need!

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Hey, yeah, thanks for clearing that up. I have a buddy, author, Stephen Graham Jones, he teaches at Texas Tech in Lubbock, he said that if you want to teach snag your MFA. He said if you get a MA you'll need to head right back in for MFA. He doesn't know why, just said that the standard flip flops all the time and right now they, the schools I mean, want an MFA. So, you're right, an MFA is all a person should ever need.

Need to wrap up my MAT first. Is Fresnos low-res?

And, too, digging the new look, the red background works.

9:30 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Fresno isn't low-res. It's a traditional program, really, at a school that serves a very diverse population in terms of race, age, life situation. There's a lot of flexibility, but classes do take place on campus.

I've been working for the Stonecoast low-res program for a couple of years, though. I'm on a leave of absence in the fall as I adjust to California. I've enjoyed teaching for Stonecoast and I do believe the low-res thing can work for a lot of people. It becomes much more about mentoring, working one on one over the course of a semester. And the residencies become condensed experiences - intellectual, acadamic, professional and social, definitely social. So that could work for you, especially if you're teaching and settled in a particular place.

And thanks for liking the new look to the blog. I just started tinkering with the colors on the template and this is what I came up with, for now. I like it, but I'll probably tinker some more before too long.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Mat Johnson said...


Congrats on this. That's a nice move, and it looks like they're building a nice program. Best of luck with the move.

12:32 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Hey Mat,

Thanks. Yeah, I think they're making a special program at Cal State. Can you think of any other program that would do a job search for a single position and end up enthusiastically hiring two minorities, all the time swearing that they got exactly the two they wanted without compromise?


1:04 PM  

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