Program grows to School of Creative Writing after Senate approval

The UBC Senate has approved the creation of the School of Creative Writing as an independent unit within the Faculty of Arts.

The Senate Academic Policy Committee submitted the proposal to the Senate on July 22. Alix Ohlin, chair of the creative writing program, said it was time for the program to become its own school after “amazing growth” in demand.

“There was a lot of enthusiasm for the proposal,” Ohlin said. “Our time has come.”

Since its establishment as a program in 1954, the creative writing program has grown from teaching small workshops to large lectures.

Day-to-day operations will remain the same after the change. The only immediate difference is that tenure-track faculty will now be housed within the School of Creative Writing instead of within the department of theatre & film.

“Over the years, the program has grown enormously in terms of both the number [of students] that we are able to support, as well as the kinds of classes and education that we are able to offer,” said Ohlin.

The program now offers three degrees: MFA, BFA and a BA minor. Curricula for a range of creative writing genres are delivered both on campus and by distance instruction. As well, the program currently has approximately 200 graduate students, 75 BFA students and an undergraduate minor that serves over 4,500 students annually.

“I see this as an opportunity to grow and to hopefully draw attention to all of the amazing work that is being done to support students and their writing at UBC,” said Ohlin.

Chair of the Creative Writing Student Association (CWSA) Stacy Penner was happy to hear about the change.

“Students and alumni are creating thrilling work across a huge range of genres, and I hope this new distinction can help celebrate their unique skills and bring even more recognition and opportunities to their writing.” Penner said.

Tony Bae, CWSA bachelor of fine arts representative, was “proud” of this new designation.

“Students can now present themselves as a part of a distinct branch in UBC. This is especially meaningful to the BFAs. Unlike most other universities, graduating with a bachelor in creative writing at UBC is a highly selective process where only a couple dozen writers make it every year,” Bae said.

“Establishing the School of Creative Writing means that we will be able to carry that distinction on our degrees, rather than simply graduating out of UBC arts.”

This article and its headline have been updated to reflect that creative writing is a program, not a department.