A new face ushers in a new era of writing: Dr. David Hicks named director of the Maslow Family Graduate Program

Among the new faculty added to Wilkes University at the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester was Dr. David Hicks. With teaching experience at Regis University and Marywood University, in addition to being an accomplished fiction writer, Hicks was named the new director of the Maslow Family Graduate Progam in Creative Writing.

Hicks was the co-founder and co-director of an MFA in Creative Writing program in Denver, Colo. Originally from the Bronx area of New York, where he earned his Ph.D. in American Literature at New York University, Hicks taught literature for many years before applying to Wilkes University.

“In my forties, after I had some stories published, I changed my career focus from a literature professor who occasionally wrote fiction to a fiction writer who occasionally taught literature,” said Hicks. “Eventually, that led to starting up a successful MFA program there, every aspect of which I thoroughly enjoyed.”

At Wilkes, the Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing is a nationally recognized low-residency graduate program. The graduate program offers three-semester and five-semester MFA programs.

Hicks explained that “low-residency” means that our students are working adults who come to campus for week-long residencies, one in January and one in June, to enjoy workshops, craft lessons, literary readings, genre instruction, guest speakers, business-of-writing panels, internship preparations and the great pleasure of being surrounded by other writers.

Then, everyone goes home and studies one-on-one (via email, phone, zoom or LIVE) with an accomplished author, such as a member of Wilkes’ faculty, who gives them feedback on their book critiques and writing projects.

Paul Riggs, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, said, “We are very fortunate to have hired Dr. Hicks into this role. He has the perfect blend of skills and experiences to take over. The program has a national reputation, but many other colleges and universities have created similar programs since Wilkes pioneered the low residency model.

“In addition to producing great writers with publishable new works of literary art, our challenge is to maintain our reputational position, while at the same time delivering the program more efficiently. Dr. Hicks founded and ran a similar program at his previous institution, so he is in a great position to meet all these goals.”

Hicks explained that he and his wife were looking to move back to the east coast to be closer to their families, with his wife originally from the Kingston area. Her mother worked at Wilkes University, which introduced him to the campus.

“When my wife and I decided to move from Colorado back east to be closer to our families, I looked in this area for my ‘dream job.’ I had co-founded and co-directed an MFA in Creative Writing program in Denver, so when I saw that the creative writing director’s position at Wilkes was available, I couldn’t believe my luck,” said Hicks.

When it comes to being a professional writer, Hicks has the skills to advise students in navigating the challenges they are going to face.

“I’ve successfully navigated the very difficulties that they’re worried about,” said Hicks. “I don’t have much natural talent, and I didn’t have any connections in the publishing world, but I worked hard, persisted and learned a lot from a variety of authors and teachers.”

Hicks continued, “Finally, I acquired an agent and had my work published – relatively late in life. And it’s not just me – every faculty mentor in our program, no matter how successful – remembers what it was like to want to be a writer, to want to write a book and have it published. The result is that we all treat our students with compassion and empathy, never condescension.”

Previous Director of the Maslow Family Graduate Program Dr. Bonnie Culver said, “Wilkes did a national search, and Dr. Hicks was one of the finalists that was brought to campus for an in-person interview in January. Since he has started with the program, I have gotten to know him as an advisor, teacher, writer and friend. I look forward to seeing what he does in the future.”

Hicks elaborated on his plans for the future of the program, stating, “For starters, we’re going to become more inclusive and representative. To that end, our recruitment, our hiring and our curriculum practices are currently being reviewed and revised. We’re also going to expand our reach beyond our MA and MFA program.

The program plans to do so by offering master classes to writers all over the country, targeting those who are interested in finishing book projects under the guidance of top-notch authors and instructors.

Another way is by offering introductory graduate class in creative writing for college seniors, which would then allow these students the ability to apply for the program at Wilkes with a one- semester transfer credit.

Finally, the program plans to offer free writing workshops in the community, especially to the members who would not ordinarily get the chance to tell their own stories.

Outside of work, Hicks likes to go hiking in the woods. He said he has plans to be hitting the Appalachian Trail as soon as possible. He also was part of a cover band in Denver. He plays the saxophone in his band, “The Plagiarists.” Hicks notes that he is looking to start another band while at Wilkes.

Hicks is proud to lead the program, and Wilkes University is excited to welcome Hicks into the Colonel family and see all that he can accomplish in the position.

Editor’s Note: The writer Anna Culver and source Bonnie Culver are related; however, Bonnie Culver was used as an expert source for the article.