The notable Janice Mirikitani, San Francisco’s second poet laureate and co-founding president of the groundbreaking Glide Foundation, has been named Diversity Scholar Visiting Professor at the University of San Francisco (USF). Mirikitani will be teaching an undergraduate course, Poetry and Poverty: Transformation From Dust, starting this fall.
“My vision is that students will grow to know themselves better, gain an enriched view and consideration of people who are not the same as they are, and experience a change within themselves as the semester progresses,” Mirikitani said.
Blending Mirikitani and USF’s shared passion for justice, Poetry and Poverty: Transformation from Dust, will explore the issues of poverty and oppression through the use of poetry, personal narrative, and direct community engagement with San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. The goals of the course are to hone students’ writing skills while deepening empathy and understanding as they interact with San Francisco’s most marginalized.
As a community activist and leader, Mirikitani’s passion for civil rights and justice is exemplified through the 87 comprehensive programs the Glide Foundation has built providing education, recovery support, primary and mental health care, job training, housing and human services. The organization, which she co-founded with husband Reverend Cecil Williams, has gained worldwide recognition, and together they have worked to empower San Francisco’s poor to make meaningful changes in their lives.
The poet laureate has also authored four poetry books and is the editor of nine landmark anthologies, which provide platforms for women, youth and writers of color. Mirikitani’s books, “We the Dangerous, New and Selected Poems” and “Beyond the Possible” co-authored with Rev. Williams, are among the required texts for her class this fall at USF.
“We know students learn better and more deeply when they are actively involved in the process,” said Mary J. Wardell-Ghirarduzzi, USF’s vice provost for Diversity Engagement and Community Outreach. “Janice’s class will do just that—engage students to learn about the root causes of poverty right here in San Francisco and then express that knowledge through the use of the written word.”
Wardell-Ghirarduzzi’s office leads the Diversity Scholar Visiting Professor program and secured Mirikitani’s appointment. Mirikitani follows Clarence B. Jones, civil rights leader and former advisor to the late Martin Luther King, Jr., who served as the first Diversity Scholar. The Office of Diversity Engagement and Community Outreach sponsors a new scholar each year, whose work reflects USF’s commitment to social justice.
About the University of San Francisco
The University of San Francisco is located in the heart of one of the world's most innovative and stunning cities and is home to a vibrant academic community of students and faculty who achieve excellence in their fields. Its diverse student body enjoys direct access to faculty, small classes, and outstanding opportunities in the city itself. USF is San Francisco’s first university, and its Jesuit Catholic mission helps ignite a student's passion for social justice and a desire to “Change the World from Here.” For more information, please visit www.usfca.edu.
Media interested in requesting an interview with Janice Mirikitani, or to learn more about USF’s Diversity Scholar Visiting Professor Program, should contact Anne-Marie Devine, senior director of media relations, at (415) 422-2697 or firstname.lastname@example.org.