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Paul Grondahl
Paul Grondahl Tapped to Lead Writers Institute

The New York State Writers Institute and the University at Albany are very pleased to announce the appointment of award-winning writer and reporter Paul Grondahl as the new director of the New York State Writers Institute.

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 retired last year.

“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,” UAlbany’s Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Darrell P. Wheeler said. “I look forward to collaborating with him and the Institute’s many friends and supporters.”

William Kennedy, Founder and Executive Director of the Writers Institute said “Paul is a great choice for director of the Writers Institute for a lot of reasons. 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.  Paul also got his masters in English at UAlbany and he’s covered many of the major writers who have visited the Institute.” 

Grondahl, an award-winning journalist and biographer, 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 four 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 Africana Studies Department at UAlbany.

“I feel like I’m coming home,” Grondahl said about the appointment, and indeed in some ways he is.

Paul himself appeared twice as an author in the Institute’s Visiting Writer Series—in 1997 with his book Mayor Corning: Albany Icon, Albany Enigma, and in 2004 to discuss his biography of Theodore Roosevelt, I Rose Like a Rocket. Beginning with Saul Bellow’s inaugural reading in 1984, Paul has attended hundreds of Institute programs, not only as journalist, but also as a reader and a passionate supporter of the art of the written word.

Paul Grondahl Biography
Paul Grondahl is an award-winning journalist and author. Grondahl has been a staff writer at the Albany Times Union since 1984, where his assignments have taken him from the Arctic to Antarctica; from Northern Ireland to Africa; from New Orleans immediately after Hurricane Katrina and Haiti after its catastrophic earthquake in 2010; and across New York State, from Ground Zero on 9/​11 to the Adirondack wilderness.

His in-depth newspaper projects on domestic violence, death and dying, mental illness in state prisons and the problems facing sub-Saharan Africa have won a number of local, state and national journalism awards.

Grondahl’s writing prizes include the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award for Feature Reporting; Scripps Howard National Journalism Award; New York Newspaper Publishers Association; two first place national feature writing prizes from The Society for Features Journalists; more than a dozen New York State Associated Press writing contest awards; and the Hearst Eagle Award, the highest recognition for a reporter in the Hearst Corp.

The author of four books, Grondahl also was named Albany Author of the Year in 1997 by the Albany Public Library and Notable Author of the Year by the Guilderland Public Library and East Greenbush Public Library, both in 2004. He has been featured on C-SPAN's "About Books" and "Book TV."

Grondahl also has been selected several times in recent years as Best Local Journalist and Best Local Author in Metroland and Times Union readers’ polls.

In addition, he received the 2006 Dr. James M. Bell Humanitarian Award from Parsons Child and Family Center.

His work has appeared in a number of publications, including Smithsonian magazine, Newsday, The New York Times Book Review, the Houston Chronicle and other newspapers.

His second book, That Place Called Home, was excerpted in Reader’s Digest and optioned to CBS, where it went into development as a made-for-TV movie but was never produced.

In addition to his own books, Grondahl has contributed introductions to A Collection of Poems by Lewis A. Swyer (The Swyer Foundation/​Mount Ida Press, 2004) and Stepping Stones by Marty Silverman (Whitston Publishing Co., 2003).

Grondahl is a veteran teacher who leads highly regarded writing workshops with students ranging from elementary school to college. For the past decade, he has worked with high school students through the Minds-On workshop program at the Rensselaerville Institute and with high school seniors in the New Visions Public Communications program at the Times Union. He has taught as writer-in-residence at the Albany Academy and Albany Academy for Girls since 2005. He also has been an adjunct professor in the Africana Studies Department at the University at Albany.

Grondahl received his bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington in 1981 and a Master’s degree in English literature from the University at Albany in 1984. He was honored in 2005 as a distinguished alumni in arts and letters from UAlbany.


I Rose Like a Rocket: The Political Education of Theodore Roosevelt
University of Nebraska Press. (Paperback edition) May, 2007.

"A well-told new biography...Albany is Mr. Grondahl's turf, and here he gives free rein to his expertise."
-- The New York Sun

"What Mr. Grondahl makes clearer is how Roosevelt's principled stands on civil service reform and social responsibility periodically sidetracked his phenomenal career."
-- Washington Times

"An outstanding job of documenting Theodore Roosevelt's evolution from brash young political reformer to shrewd and pragmatic political operator...painted quite deftly by Grondahl."
-- Publishers Weekly

Mayor Corning: Albany Icon, Albany Enigma
Washington Park Press. Albany, N.Y., 1997.

(With an introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Kennedy.)

A rich and compelling political biography of Mayor Erastus Corning 2nd, the nation's longest-tenured mayor of an American city and head of Albany's vaunted Democratic machine. First elected in 1941, Corning served until he died in office in 1983 after winning 11 consecutive elections.

"A minor classic — a highly readable, meticulously researched and illuminating history of some fascinating and shadowy byways in the politics of the Empire State."
-- The New York Times Book Review

"Detailed, accurate and eminently readable."
-- Mario M. Cuomo, former Governor of New York

"Here journalism at its finest merges with the art of the novelist. The book indeed resembles a series of fascinating interlocking novellas."
-- R.W.B. Lewis, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer

That Place Called Home
Servant Publications. Ann Arbor, Mich., 2000.

(With a foreword by Eunice Kennedy Shriver)
This heartwarming story describes how Sr. Mary Ann LoGiudice, a Sister of Mercy in Albany, N.Y., gained approval from her religious order to adopt and raise a young girl named Barbara, both of whose parents died of AIDS. The nun and the young, HIV-positive girl formed an unlikely family and enjoyed many delightful, challenging and inspiring years together as mother and daughter.

"Her story is immensely moving and life-affirming."
-- Bob Keeler, Newsday religious writer

"One of the most moving testimonies to the power of love that I have ever read."
-- Sister Mary Rose McGeady, D.C. President of Covenant House, New York City

Now Is The Time: A History of Parsons Child and Family Center 1829-2004
Whitston Publishing Company Inc. Albany, N.Y., 2006.

A narrative history of one of the oldest orphanages in the United States that draws on archival research and oral histories. Founded in 1829 and formerly known as the Albany Orphan Asylum and the Albany Home for Children, this is a powerful and emotionally charged chronicle of often forgotten children left in institutional care.

"Grondahl uses his storytelling skills to make readers curious about the institution, to draw them into the lives of children and staff -- and to inspire them to care about those lives."
-- The Sunday Gazette, Schenectady, N.Y.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.