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Coming Home to UAlbany and the World of Writing

Author/Journalist Grondahl Tapped to Lead Writers Institute

Paul Grondahl, left, chats with former Gov. Mario Cuomo and George Hearst at the Institute’s 25th anniversary celebration on Nov. 16, 2009.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 3, 2017) — Award-winning journalist and biographer Paul Grondahl has been selected to serve as director of the New York State Writers Institute, Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Darrell P. Wheeler announced today.

Grondahl, who earned a master’s degree in English at UAlbany in 1984, was selected after a national search for a successor to Donald Faulkner, who directed the Institute for 21 years. Grondahl's first day will be Feb. 21.

“Paul is one of the best-known and most-loved writers in our community. I am confident that under Paul’s leadership, the New York State Writers Institute will reach new heights,” Wheeler said in an email to faculty and staff. “I look forward to collaborating with him and the Institute’s many friends and supporters.”

The Institute, housed on the third floor of the Science Library, hosts author visits, readings and residencies, film screenings, panel discussions and writing workshops for students and adults. The programs are designed to increase access to major authors for students of writing and readers of literature, broaden exposure for emerging authors, and provide important cultural initiatives for the general public.

Grondahl has been a staff writer at the Albany Times Union since 1984, where his projects on domestic violence, death and dying, mental illness in state prisons and the problems facing sub-Saharan Africa have won local, state and national journalism awards.

The author of three books, Grondahl also leads writing workshops for students ranging from elementary school to college. He has taught as writer-in-residence at the Albany Academy and Albany Academy for Girls since 2005 and is an adjunct professor in the Department of Africana Studies at UAlbany.

As a journalist, Grondahl has covered many of the major writers who have visited the institute, and appeared twice as a guest in the Institute’s Visiting Writer Series — in 1997 and 2004.

“I feel like I’m coming home,” Grondahl said.

UAlbany has been home to the New York State Writers Institute since its founding in 1983 by Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist William Kennedy, using part of his “genius grant” fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

“Paul is a great choice for director of the Writers Institute for a lot of reasons,” Kennedy said. “Above all, he’s a serious writer. He’s very savvy about literature and writers, and as a journalist, he’s nonpareil – maybe the best we’ve had in this town in 30 years or more. He’s written two well-received biographies of major political figures on our local stage – Teddy Roosevelt, and Erastus Corning, the singular mayor of Albany for 42 years.”

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