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2015 President's Award for Leadership

Troy and WolfeMary Troy, MFA

Professor of English
University of Missouri-St. Louis

Professor Mary Troy joined the UMSL faculty in 1994 as a lecturer and, in 1998, became director of the school’s newly-created MFA in creative writing program — a program she led for 12 years.

Nominators wrote that Troy’s leadership of the program was unique in that she took on the additional administrative role as a brand new assistant professor who was already teaching a full course load. Though new to the job, she worked tirelessly to build the program, first by securing opportunities for graduate teaching assistantships on campus and at partnering institutions to attract qualified applicants. She then focused on building program visibility through community and national outreach by hosting symposiums, establishing a visiting writer program, and through signature events such as Celebration of the Book.

“We’ve become a known program, especially when it comes to the rigor with which we teach fiction and poetry craft and for fostering a community of supportive writers,” wrote nominator John Dalton, MFA program director. “All of this is the result of a decade and a half of integrity and hard work from Mary Troy.”

As the MFA program grew, Troy established the Writers in the Schools (WITS) program to place MFA students in high schools and community colleges to give lessons in creativity, conduct writing exercises and read literary works. The WITS program has reached nearly 2,000 area students since its inception in 2010. Troy has also nurtured UMSL’s nationally-distributed literary magazine Natural Bridge by securing funding through governmental and community arts organizations. She has served as the journal’s editor since 2008.

“She was the program’s stabilizing force, which was still developing and growing during a time of fiscal uncertainty within the English department. She was steadfast in finding funding for her students, encouraging enrollment, being attentive to the students’ needs, and remaining accessible to all of us,” wrote nominator Michael Nye, managing editor of the Missouri Review.

Reviewed 2019-10-01