Honorable Mention, Atlantic Monthly Student Writing Contest

I received a phone call yesterday from The Atlantic to inform me that I have received an honorable mention in their Student Writing Contest. I was encouraged to enter, in part, by their listing of Pacific University’s MFA program, in which I am currently enrolled, as one of the top five programs in the nation of its type. Unfortunately, according to a subsequent email, “while the editors will indeed be reviewing several of the winning manuscripts for potential publication in the magazine, there is no guarantee that any submissions will be published.” Shucks. Still, nice to receive a mention, and honorable at that, from our nation’s most intelligent periodical.

Congratulations, Pacific University MFA

The following email arrived this morning:

Dear MFA Students and Alumni,

I just discovered last night that the latest Atlantic Monthly magazine has listed Pacific University as one of the top five low-residency MFA programs in the nation! Jeannine Hall Gailey casually told me this in an email (a post script, no less) and I dashed out to buy two copies of the “Special Fiction Issue 2007.” In there is an article called “Where Great Writers Are Made” and there, in the last sidebar, is our program. We are included with the most venerable low-residency programs in the nation: Antioch, Bennington, Vermont and Warren Wilson.

Building a program is never easy. But it has truly been a group effort and the faculty and students are the ones who have helped make it happen. You are a talented, hardworking and passionate community and I hope you take as much pride and joy in this news as I do.

All best,


Shelley Washburn, Director
MFA in Writing
Pacific University

Not bad for a program that has only graduated two full classes so far.

Obviously, I didn’t choose Pacific for its reputation, since it effectively didn’t have one when I applied. But clearly I’m not the only one who sees the means to work so closely with such great faculty as a rare opportunity and privilege. The beyond-the-call-of-duty helpfulness of the staff, beautiful residency settings and challenging-yet-manageable academic structure go further in making this a great experience so far. Hats off to all involved.