Who was Bruce Dearing, and why does a writing award bear his name?

This is the 28th year of the annual Bruce Dearing Writing Award Competition at Upstate. Staff, faculty and students may submit fiction, essay, memoir and poetry, and the winners are considered for publication in Upstate’s literary journal, The Healing Muse. 

Why is the award called the Bruce Dearing Writing Award?

The Healing Muse editor Deirdre Neilen explains:

1966Bruce Dearing came to Upstate in 1976 from SUNY Binghamton where he served as president for six and a half years. He was also vice chancellor for academic programs for the SUNY system for five and a half years.

Dearing was the first professor of humanities in medicine at Upstate, at a time when medical professionals were taught to value scientific detachment more than human connections. He saw literature, art, and music as a means of improving and deepening the insights of physicians, medical students, and health care professionals. He created courses and gave lectures that put the practice of medicine squarely in a humanistic tradition of caring competence. His colleagues and students remember him as a teacher, a gadfly, a provocateur.

He was also a poet, and he loved nothing better than gathering a group together to read and hear each other’s work. He encouraged the broadening of the medical curriculum to include philosophy, humanities, and ethics. He served on the Institutional Review Board for Human Experimentation and with the Caring Coalition.

The Writing Award was begun as a tribute to Dearing and his spirit.

“Each year when we honor the student and staff writers of Upstate, we honor his memory and continue his valued work,” Neilen says. “We think he would also be enormously pleased by Upstate’s new Center for Bioethics and Humanities which brings together the traditions he advocated.”

Learn more about the Bruce Dearing Writing Award

Deadline is March 7.

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