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UAlbany's NYS Writers Institute Celebrates 25th Anniversary

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Contact(s):  Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150

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Governor Mario Cuomo signs into law the University at Albany's New York State Writers Institute

Governor Mario Cuomo signs into law the University at Albany's New York State Writers Institute on August 6, 1984 as State Senator Tarky Lombardi, NYSWI Executive Director William Kennedy and Assemblyman William Passannante look on.

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 1, 2009) -- The New York State Writers Institute at the University at Albany announces its Fall 2009 schedule of visiting writers and classic films as a celebration of its 25th anniversary. On August 6, 1984, Governor Mario Cuomo signed into law the legislation creating the New York State Writers Institute, giving the Institute a mandate to provide “a milieu for established and aspiring writers to work together  . . . to increase the artistic imagination.” Since then the Institute has sponsored author visits, film screenings, symposia, staged readings, and writing workshops. Over 1,000 writers — in all genres, and winners of every major literary award in the United States and abroad — have shared their work with both student and community audiences, making Albany a literary crossroads.

"For 25 years, the New York State Writers Institute has served as a beacon for writers across the globe, drawing them to Albany. It has been a tremendous resource for UAlbany, the larger community, the state and the world of literature. In all it does, the Writers Institute truly furthers UAlbany's mission to bring 'the world within reach,'"said University at Albany President George M. Philip.

"When we began the Institute the idea always was to have a continuing dialogue with the best writers in the world. And that's exactly what we have been doing for the past 25 years," said award-winning author William Kennedy, founder and executive director of the Writers Institute. Kennedy initially started the Institute with funds from a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, which he received in 1983.

Garrison Keillor at the University at Albany's New York State Writers Institute.

Garrison Keillor at the University at Albany's New York State Writers Institute. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

The Writers Institute's fall schedule features a number of notable events including appearances by Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman; Oscar, Emmy, Tony, and Grammy award-winning performer Rita Moreno; 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner in nonfiction Douglas Blackmon; best-selling fiction writers Lorrie Moore and Richard Russo; a tribute to Nelson Algren by two of his protégés, Russell Banks and Don DeLillo; and a special 25th anniversary celebration with former Governor Mario Cuomo and award-winning biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin.

"In the many years of planning, organizing, and captaining the Visiting Writers Series, I can't think of a season more challenging to pull together, or more satisfying to present to our audiences," said Writers Institute Director Donald Faulkner about the 25th anniversary schedule.

Highlights:

  • October 7: Award-winning performer Rita Moreno, The Burian Lecture: "Working on Stage, Film, and TV." 8 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown campus.  Puerto Rico-born performer Rita Moreno is one of only twelve performers to win all four of the most prestigious awards in show business: Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy. Celebrated for her Oscar-winning role as Anita in "West Side Story" (1962), and for her Tony-winning performance as Googie Gomez in "The Ritz" (1973), Moreno has recently appeared in television episodes of "Law & Order," "Ugly Betty," “George Lopez,” "Oz," and "Cane." In 2004 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Co-sponsored by UAlbany’s Department of Theatre and funded by the Jarka and Grayce Burian Endowment.
  • October 9: Nobel Prize-winning economist and author Paul Krugman. Reading/discussion, 8 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown campus. Paul Krugman, winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Economics and the author of an influential op-ed column in the New York Times, has been called the most important political columnist in America" (Washington Monthly), and "the most celebrated economist of his generation (The Economist).
  • October 10: The New York State Writers Institute: The First 25 Years. Discussion/film clips, 2 p.m., Fine Arts Building 126. Writers Institute Executive Director William Kennedy and Director Donald Faulkner present an overview of the Institute’s 25 year history -- its formation, memorable guests, and future direction -- with video clip highlights of past events.
  • October 10: MILK. (United States, 2008, 128 minutes, color, directed by Gus Van Sant), 3:30 p.m. Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center. Nominated for eight Academy Awards, MILK tells the epic story of Harvey Milk, the civil rights activist and UAlbany alumnus who became America’s first openly gay elected official. Sponsored in conjunction with UAlbany’s Community Day.
  • October 13: A Tribute to Frank McCourt: American Place Theatre performance of Teacher Man. Pre-performance tribute to Frank McCourt — 7 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center. Performance — 7:30 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center. $15 general public; $12 seniors & faculty/staff; $10 students  Box Office: (518) 442-3997; tickets@albany.edu  In tribute to the memory of Frank McCourt, UAlbany’s Performing Arts Center and the Writers Institute present American Place Theatre’s theatrical adaptation of Frank McCourt’s Teacher Man, the witty and heartbreakingly honest memoir recording the trials, triumphs and surprises he faced in public high schools around New York City during his 30 year career as a teacher. Prior to the performance Institute directors William Kennedy and Donald Faulkner will present a tribute to McCourt with video clips of his past appearances at the Institute.
  • November 16: New York State Writers Institute 25th Anniversary Celebration. 8 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown campus. In 1984, Governor Mario Cuomo signed into law the legislation creating the Writers Institute. Mario Cuomo, along with historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin, and other guests, will join us for an evening of reminiscence and celebration. A film highlighting memorable guests and events from the Institute’s 25 year history will be screened. Mario Cuomo, one of the great orators and intellectuals of 20th century American politics, served as the 52nd Governor of the State of New York from 1983 to 1994. He has also published several notable books, including most recently, Why Lincoln Matters: Today More Than Ever (2004). Doris Kearns Goodwin is the author of bestselling biographies about Lyndon Johnson, the Roosevelts, and the Kennedys. Her most recent book is Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (2005).
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      Educationally and culturally, the University at Albany-SUNY puts "The World Within Reach" for its 18,000 students. An internationally recognized research university with 58 undergraduate majors and 128 graduate degree programs, UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as public policy, nanotechnology and criminal justice. With a curriculum enhanced by 300 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers. For more information about this globally ranked University, visit www.albany.edu. For UAlbany's extensive roster of faculty experts, visit www.albany.edu/news/experts.shtml.

      Christopher Onuorah, '12
      UAlbany Student

      University at Albany sophomore Christopher Onuorah abides by one personal rule: Be content but never complacent.

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