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Contact: Rene Abadie
Date: 5/26/04
 
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NOVELIST NAMED WRITER-IN-RESIDENCE AT SOUTHEASTERN
      HAMMOND -- Olympia Vernon, an award-winning young author, is joining the faculty of Southeastern Louisiana University, her alma mater, as a writer-in-residence.
      Vernon, who has received universal praise for her debut novel, “Eden,” will teach a course in creative writing this fall. She joins a growing contingent of noted creative writers within the Southeastern faculty, including Timothy Gautreaux, another writer-in-residence; poets Jack Bedell and Alison Pelegrin, and short story writer and novelist Norman German.
      “We are pleased and honored to have Ms. Vernon on board,” said President Randy Moffett. “Not only will her talent, expertise and experience as a writer benefit our students, but her success is sure to inspire them as well.” 
      "We are very happy to have Ms. Vernon join us as a member of the English faculty," said Tammy Bourg, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "As a successful author of national acclaim, she is sure to be a motivating force for our students, particularly when they realize she is a homegrown talent."
      Vernon received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Southeastern in 1999. Her love of writing, nurtured by her Southeastern English professors, inspired her to earn a master of fine arts degree from Louisiana State University in 2002. “Eden” has prompted descriptions of Vernon as a “gifted new writer” and an “immense talent.” Her second novel, “Logic,” a coming of age tale of a young girl in Mississippi, was published in April.
      “Olympia Vernon's 2003 novel ‘Eden’ put the reading world on notice that a bright and original voice had arrived,” said Times-Picayune book editor Susan Larsen. “Her second novel, ‘Logic,’ only confirms that strong promise.”
      Vernon is the two-time recipient of the Matt Clark Memorial Scholarship and was nominated for the Robert O. Butler Award in Fiction in 2002. She was recently selected by the American Academy of Arts and Letters to receive the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award for her literary achievement in “Eden.” The award is given for an American work of fiction “which is a considerable literary achievement."  Previous recipients have included authors such as Alice Walker, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike and John Knowles.
      The College of Arts and Sciences recently selected Vernon as it’s 2004 Alumnus of the Year. Accepting the award, she told Southeastern students, “Always remember your dreams, never let them be stifled. Always remember who you are; always live in your freedom.”