Poet-in-residence Mangan named the inaugural recipient of Coley Chair

May 04, 2010

Poet-in-residence and English Professor Kathy Mangan was named the inaugural recipient of the newly created Joan Develin Coley Chair in Creative Expression and the Arts at Honors Convocation held May 2. More than $1.6 million was pledged by the Board of Trustees to permanently endow the chair in honor of President Coley.

Coley shared her rationale for the designation of the chair in the arts, having considered that the College’s endowed chairs and professorships currently honor faculty in the sciences, social sciences, graduate and professional studies and in the humanities. With her own abundant appreciation for literature, music, art and film, and an undergraduate degree in English, Coley designated the chair that will bear her name to honor “someone who is passionate about creativity in all its forms: as artistic process, expression or performance.

“Scholars may be chosen from areas such as the fine or performing arts, creative writing or poetry, film analysis or music theory, or areas yet to be developed through scholarly research,” she added.

After consulting with Provost Tom Falkner, Coley selected Mangan as the first faculty member to “sit” in the Coley Chair.

Mangan, whose impact as teacher, mentor and muse to her students, spans more than three decades. Her proven skill as a professor of English earned her the College’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1984, and in 1999, Mangan was selected as the first recipient of the Ralph and Dorothy John professorship.

Her first poem appeared in print when she was in eighth grade when she won a poetry contest sponsored by the Hartford (Conn.) Courant. Mangan migrated to Ohio where she earned her undergraduate degree at Denison University, and she credits her creative writing professor for steering her toward graduate work in English. Taking his advice, she completed her master’s and doctorate at Ohio University.

Throughout her teaching career, Mangan has carved out time for “creative labor,” at her cabin in West Virginia or at residencies such as the Tyrone Guthrie Center, The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the McDowell Colony. She teaches her creative writing students to critique each other’s work and guides them to stretch beyond their imaginings to understand writing as art, craft and discipline.

Her poems appear in several anthologies and the nation’s most prestigious literary journals. Her first full-length collection of poems, “Above the Tree Line” was published in 1995. The book’s title poem – inspired by Mangan’s climb above the tree line of New Hampshire’s Mount Monadnock many years ago – also earned the prestigious Pushcart Prize and was featured on the Poetry Daily Web site. Her poem “The Light Gatherers” is part of College history after gracing the 2001 inauguration of Coley as the College’s eighth president.

This past fall, Mangan’s poem, “The Whistle,” appeared online and in newspapers around the country after being selected by former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser as the poem of the week on the American Life in Poetry Web site viewed by more than 4 million readers weekly.

At Convocation, Board Chair Martin K. P. Hill praised Coley for her decade of leadership and advancement of faculty development and scholarship. In her honor, Hill spearheaded a special fundraising initiative among trustees to endow the chair.

“In less than three weeks and with 100 percent participation, McDaniel trustees raised over $1.6 million, more than enough to endow the chair,” he said.