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News Mon Feb 27 2012

Change Comes To Columbia College's Fiction Writing Department

Higher Education has suffered under the stress of our economic climate these past years. Columbia College Chicago, an institution focusing on arts and media education has not been immune to these ills. In an attempt to strengthen resources, Columbia has undertaken certain strategic measures. Such measures include those addressed in an article published in the Reader by Deanna Issacs concerning treatment of full-time and adjunct faculty at local colleges such as Columbia and Northwestern.

In the same vein, Columbia has pushed for further measures this year to maintain its budget. Spotlights on staff and faculty positions are the latest attempt to prioritize assets. This past Friday, the contract of Randy Albers, chair of the college's Fiction Writing Department, was not renewed. Albers has been part of the department for 16 years. He is notable for his role in fostering the annual Story Week Festival of Writers (2012 guests feature Bonnie Jo Campbell and Christine Sneed). No replacement has been announced. Albers will still maintain his role as a full-time faculty member.

As someone currently enrolled in this writing program, I find it hard to imagine what shape it will have in the near future. There have been reports from academic deans, posted in the campus newspaper, calling for a new creative nonfiction major. This might be where the Fiction Writing department lands. The answer to that question is as unclear as that of who will become the new department chair.

Fiction Writing department faculty member and local writer Rob Duffer puts it best in his article posted today on the Examiner, "It seems fitting, then, that no successor -- no chair -- has been named. It was best filled by Randy Albers."

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