Chatham News

MFA in Creative Writing program awards Fellowships for the 2011-2012 academic year

By: Amanda Leff Ritchie, Senior Public Relations Specialist
May 24, 2011

Chatham’s distinctive Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program recently announced fellowship recipients for the 2011-2012 academic year. Information about the awards and recipients follows below.

Maryann Ullmann of Acton, Mass., has been named the 2011-2012 Margaret L. Whitford Fellow. As part of the fellowship, she will fulfill a leadership role within the MFA student organization. Ullmann brings with her thirteen years of experience as a writer of fiction, nonfiction, journalism and poetry, as well as five years of teaching experience. She is fluent in Spanish and spent four years in Argentina. She has dedicated much of her time to nonprofits in the fields of the environment and the rights of immigrants and indigenous peoples. Ullmann received her BA in cultural studies (2000) at Antioch College (Yellow Springs, Ohio) and her MS in Environmental Science, with a concentration in Environmental Advocacy & Organizing (2006), at Antioch University (Keene, N.H.). The Whitford Fellowship carries full-tuition remission for two years (approximately $12,000, dependent upon course load).

The Whitford is a two-year fellowship award; Sarah Leavens will be continuing as a Whitford Fellow. Leavens recently completed her first year in Chatham’s MFA program in poetry and creative nonfiction. She holds a BFA in painting and English writing from Wittenberg University (Springfield, Ohio). Prior to Chatham, she worked for four years at Clark State Community College Performing Arts Center in Ohio.

Gina Olszowski of Geneva, Ill., has completed her first year in Chatham’s creative nonfiction program and will continue as the Rachel Carson Fellow. In this capacity, she assists the MFA program director. Olszowski holds a BA in mass communications from Drake University (Des Moines, Iowa) and has worked as a freelance artist and designer. This research assistant fellowship carries a $10,000 stipend for one year, with the possibility of applying again for the second year.

Caroline Tanski, a native of Maine, has completed her first year in Chatham’s creative nonfiction program, and will continue as the Fourth River Fellow. In this capacity, Tanski serves as managing editor of The Fourth River literary journal. She holds a BA in creative writing from Bard College at Simon’s Rock (Great Barrington, Mass.) and worked for four years as a technical services librarian at Harvard College Library in Cambridge. The Fourth River Fellowship carries a $10,000 stipend for one year, with the possibility of applying again for the second year.

Leah Brennan of Easthampton, Mass., was awarded one of two first year teaching assistantships. Brennan completed her BA in English at Trinity College (Hartford, Conn.), including study abroad at King’s College in London. After teaching English in France for two years, she taught English at the high school level at Cheshire Academy in Connecticut. Brennan currently works for Educational Testing Services, where she evaluates language arts instruction.

Tricia Dituro of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, was awarded the second first year teaching assistantship. She completed her BA in English at Gannon University (Erie, Pa.) and her MA in English literature at John Carroll University (University Heights, Ohio), where she has been teaching Rhetoric and Composition.

D. Gilson of Springfield, Mo., has completed his first year at Chatham in poetry. He holds a BS in professional/technical writing and an MA in English from Missouri State University, where he has taught courses in composition and creative writing.

The teaching fellowship carries a $10,000 stipend for one year, with the possibility of applying again for the second year. Duties include assisting professors with undergraduate creative writing courses with the opportunity to work in the writing center.

About the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Chatham University’s ground-breaking MFA focusing on nature, environment and travel writing is the premier graduate program for nurturing creative writers interested in the environmental imagination and place-based writing. Our program is inspired by the work of Chatham alumna, Rachel Carson, a creative writer whose work demonstrates both lyricism and social conscience. The heart of our program–nature, environmental and travel writing–honors Carson’s legacy, but expands the interpretation of environment to include any place-based writing and all genres-poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction-shaped by human relationship with place. For more information about Chatham’s MFA programs call 412- (412) 365-1190 or visit

About Chatham University

Chatham University prepares students from around the world to help develop solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. Consistently ranked among the top master’s level institutions in the Northeast by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review, Chatham University is also ranked in the top five percent of graduate-intensive institutions nationally and experienced the fastest-growing enrollment in the Pittsburgh region over the past decade. Founded in 1869, Chatham University includes the Shadyside Campus, with the historic 39-acre Woodland Road arboretum and Chatham Eastside facility; and the 388-acre Eden Hall Campus north of Pittsburgh. For more information, call 800-837-1290 or visit .