McKinney Postgraduate Teaching Fellowship

This fellowship honors the founding director of WV Wesleyan’s MFA Program by offering a graduate of the program the opportunity to gain teaching experience in close mentorship with practiced faculty.

2014-15 FELLOW: Ashley Higginbotham

photo-trolls for site

Ashley Higginbotham is a 2013 graduate of WV Wesleyan’s MFA program. Her MFA work focused on a novel-length story cycle that follows a family and centers on the theme of what it means to leave something, be it a place or a person, behind. The stories explore familial relationships and the bonds individuals share with the land where they are born. Ashley is deeply interested in contemporary literature, including works by Zadie Smith, Haruki Murakami, Helen Oyeyemi, and Kevin Wilson. Ashley completed her BA at Wesleyan in 2008 and her MA at Marshall University in 2010. Ashley also enjoys music and is learning to play both the guitar and the fiddle. She is a collector of knickknacks, and is always looking for more Treasure Trolls to add to her assortment.


The Irene McKinney Postgraduate Teaching Fellowship is available to all graduates of the West Virginia Wesleyan College MFA Program for up to 3 years after graduation. The fellow will teach six undergraduate courses during the academic year—three Composition I courses in the fall, and two Composition II courses and a 100-level Introduction to Literature or Creative Writing course in the spring, with possible variation depending on English Department needs; s/he will also offer a literary reading on campus in the spring. The fellow will work under the supervision of the MFA Director and English Department Chair, will meet regularly with a mentor and undergo at least two classroom observations, and will receive a stipend of $16,500. The fellow will be required to live in the Buckhannon area (or at reasonable commuting distance which enables the fellow to hold a minimum of 5 office hours weekly) from the mid-August Faculty Retreat Day to the early-May Final Grades due date during the fellowship year.

Timeline for application process: The fellow must have the MFA degree in hand before the fellowship year. To comply with Final Deposit of Thesis deadlines and MFA degree conferral dates, fall thesis students are eligible to apply the March following their Fifth Residency. For example, a Fall 2014 thesis student may apply for the fellowship as early as March 2015. Spring thesis students are eligible to apply as early as the March during their thesis semester, so, for example, a Spring 2015 thesis student may apply as early as March 2015. Please note that this revision updates the timeline given in the Student Handbook revised in 2014.

An applicant should submit the following:

1) letter of application which discusses:

–relevant teaching/work experience (applicants with no teaching experience will be considered)

–areas of expertise and interest in writing and literature

–current writing projects

2) teaching philosophy for basic composition

3) drafted syllabus for a Composition I course and sketch of an Introduction to Literature or Creative Writing course

4) current CV

5) writing sample of no more than 20 pages

An applicant must also have two letters of recommendation addressing his or her experience/potential as a teacher sent directly to the MFA Director. One letter of recommendation can be submitted by Wesleyan MFA core or visiting faculty; the other letter must come from outside the program.

While the fellowship may be received only once, fellows may apply to renew for a second consecutive year. Also, previous applicants are permitted to reapply. Applications will be reviewed and finalists chosen by the MFA Director and core MFA faculty; advancing candidates will be interviewed by phone or Skype. The final decision will be made by the English Chair, in consultation with the MFA Director and with the approval of the Dean of the College.

Applications must be received by March 1 for the following academic year; a decision will be made by April 1.

Electronic submissions are required. All application materials should be sent in a single Word or PDF file to Jessie van Eerden, MFA Director at, indicating McKinney Fellowship Application in the subject line. Letters of recommendation should be sent to Jessie van Eerden via email or mail: West Virginia Wesleyan College; 59 College Avenue, Box 46; Buckhannon, WV 26201.