Faculty & Staff Achievements

USF Salutes Three Guggenheim Fellows

by Ed Carpenter, Office of Marketing Communications

Three University of San Francisco faculty have been named John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship winners for 2011. 

The triple honor brings USF’s Guggenheim-winning faculty to four, including Professor of sociology Joshua Gamson’s 2009 win.

“I am so happy that we have been able to recruit these outstanding teacher-scholars whose writing promises to have a major impact on society, whether through poetry, fiction, or nonfiction work,” said Jennifer Turpin, USF provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Calling it a time to celebrate USF faculty, Turpin described each of this year’s Guggenheim winners – Richard Leo, associate professor of law, D.A. Powell, associate professor of English, and David Vann, associate professor in the MFA creative writing program – as gifted writers that have had a major impact on USF students who have benefited by studying with such major figures.

Awarded to just 180 candidates from almost 3,000 applicants in 2011, Guggenheim Fellowships are grants to selected individuals meant to provide fellows with blocks of time in which they can work with as much creative freedom as possible. Fellows may spend their grant in any manner they deem necessary.

Leo, and writer Tom Wells, who coauthored the award-winning The Wrong Guys: Murder, False Confessions, and the Norfolk Four, plan to use their grant to research a new book, The Innocence Revolution. The new book will be a history of the founding of the Innocence Project and the consequential exoneration of hundreds of wrongly-convicted U.S. prisoners as a result of DNA evidence.

Powell, the winner of the prestigious Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for his book Chronic and Harvard University’s Phi Beta Kapp guest poet in 2010, will use his grant to pay for research trips to California's Central Valley for his new book of poetry.

“All I know right now is that several of the poems are landscapes and some are about desire and mortality,” Powell said. The fellowship will give him time to complete more poems for the book and to start to visualize how and which poems fit together as a book, Powell said.

International best-selling author and winner of France’s Prix Médicis in 2010, Vann will use his grant to work on his sixth novel, Dirt. This new work of fiction will draw on Vann’s family history in California’s Central Valley, relating the main character Galen’s pursuit of spiritual transcendence in the New Age movement.

“The novel is often comic because of Galen’s belief, describing his fire walking, etheric surgery, meditation, authentic movement, sweat lodges, and even trying to walk on water,” Vann said.

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