NYS Writers Institute to Mark 40 Years at UAlbany

Composite shows the NYS Writers Institute logo, a film poster for Daughters of the West and four photos of authors
The NYS Writers Institute is bringing a fresh slate of more than 30 literary, film and cultural events to campus this spring as it celebrates 40 years at UAlbany.

By Bethany Bump

ALBANY, N.Y. (Jan. 17, 2023) — The NYS Writers Institute will kick off its spring lineup and a milestone year with an event this week celebrating 40 years since its founding at the University at Albany.

The anniversary celebration, scheduled for Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center Recital Hall, will double as a birthday party for founder William Kennedy, who turned 95 on Jan. 16, and feature an announcement of a major philanthropic gift.

“We are excited to mark this milestone of William Kennedy's vision in 1983 that has grown into one of the nation's pre-eminent literary presenting organizations, offering some of the most distinctive, diverse and dynamic programs in our rich history," said Paul Grondahl, director of the Institute.

Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, founded the Writers Institute in 1983 with part of a fellowship that had been awarded to him from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. He selected UAlbany as the host institution, and the University committed to matching the fellowship funds in order to establish a visiting writers series. The Institute’s first events featured Nobel Prize-winning novelists Saul Bellow and Toni Morrison.

The organization quickly grew, hosting a broad range of cultural and literary activities and attracting world-renowned writers to Albany. Since its founding it has brought more than 2,500 writers to campus.

The anniversary event will kick off a spring season that will feature more than 30 literary, film and cultural events around campus, including visits by four Pulitzer Prize winners — Stephen Adly Guirgis, Gilbert King, Paul Muldoon and Jennifer Egan — and leading environmental activist and author Bill McKibben.

Events will include craft talks, readings and conversations with writers on topics ranging from love, loss and aging to politics, history, culture and true crime.

The third annual Albany Film Festival is another major highlight of the season, and will take place Saturday, April 1, in the Campus Center. A series of films connected to the festival will be screened ahead of time in February and March.

"We are deeply grateful for the ongoing support of the University at Albany and our many donors,” Grondahl said. “Their generosity ensures that we can continue to offer our acclaimed programming free and open to the public. Together, we will continue to expand our wonderful community where readers and writers meet.”          

All events take place on UAlbany's uptown and downtown campuses and are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

See the full spring lineup here.