The Sydney Hall Blair Award for Excellence in Teaching was created to support women writers of fiction and to honor Sydney Blair, who taught at the University of Virginia up until her untimely death in 2016. Sydney was an English Department fixture for more than thirty years, graduating from the Creative Writing Program with a Master of Fine Arts degree and serving as its director from 1991 to 1995 and again, from 2006 to 2009. Blair is widely credited for helping to guide the program toward its stellar national reputation and for connecting with and guiding students with a keen eye and an open heart.
The Sydney Hall Blair Award for Excellence in Teaching was established as part of the Sydney Blair Memorial Fellowship fund by Sydney’s children, Abbie Fentress Swanson and Tom Swanson, with the generous support of family and friends. The award is meant to recognize each spring one second-year female MFA in fiction student, selected by the fiction writing faculty as embodying the high pedagogical standards, warmth, support, and dedication to students evinced by Sydney in her own teaching. According to the gift agreement, the award is to be made to a second-year fiction writer in the MFA program, a “woman deemed by the Creative Writing Program faculty to be an especially effective, innovative, and devoted instructor of undergraduates.”
- To donate to the Sydney Hall Blair Fellowship for Creative Writing, use this UVA GiveCampus link.
- To see a list of recent Blair award fellows, see this Creative Writing Program page.
- And to read about the 2016 memorial service for Sydney and Sydney herself, see this UVA Arts page, this UVA News page, and this C-ville article.