The Michener Center needs to cater to undergraduates who seek resources

Neha Dronamraju

The Michener Center is UT’s Master of Fine Arts program, with just 12 writers selected from an applicant pool of approximately 1,000. For these standout writers, the Michener Center provides outstanding school and faculty resources.

Michener poets are published in The New Yorker, their visiting writers are Pulitzer Prize recipients and their faculty are of the same caliber. Many of Michener’s events, where Poet Laureates such as Tracy K. Smith come to read their work, are hosted in the Harry Ransom Center — a five minute walk from the middle of campus, and the heart of undergraduate life and activity.

Undergraduates, especially those who love writing and are looking to pursue it as a career, are missing out on such opportunities simply because they’re not aware of them. As a University of Texas graduate entity, the center has a responsibility to not only serve its students, but also foster a relationship with prospective undergraduates. The Michener Center should better advertise their events and resources to undergraduate students.

Plan II and marketing sophomore Mackenzie Graham enjoys playwriting and is pursuing a certificate in creative writing in addition to her two majors. 

“Playwriting is something I absolutely love to do,” Graham said. “I would love to be connected with more opportunities to meet creatives in this field, and the Michener readings seem like an amazing option to do that.”

Graham said that she will begin attending them now that she is aware they take place in the Harry Ransom Center, just across the street from her apartment. 

For students like Graham, time is scarce and doing research outside of their academic interests to find opportunities is an unaffordable luxury. Students should not have to do this extra research to keep up with University events.

I am a CNS student, and during natural sciences week I get countless emails from CNS outlining the goings-on of each day of the week. I get an email every time there’s a “Women in Science” panel or a distinguished speaker is coming to campus. UT should mimic this with graduate entities, specifically the Michener center. 

The Michener Center did not wish to comment, as they felt they could not knowledgeably speak about the undergraduate population. This demonstrates the pressing need for interaction between graduate and undergraduate entities. 

A graduate program’s responsibilities entail serving the undergraduate population as well. Talent is best cultivated, shaped and inspired within the institution that houses the program, and Michener can take a step toward achieving this goal by coordinating with the College of Liberal Arts to better advertise the Michener Center’s invaluable events and resources through emails. 

Dronamraju is a public health sophomore from Dallas.