Surveys of faculty members (workshop approaches, personalities, styles, etc) at the various MFA programs have appeared on this blog before, but considering the ever-changing lineups it could be helpful to resurrect this practice. Those interested in the MFA should certainly research the scope of the faculty presence at particular programs before applying.
Before my current MFA days I completed the MA program at Rutgers, Newark, and since I experienced the gamut there I may as well use two RU professors as examples. Alice Elliott Dark and Rachel Hadas both taught in the MA program during my years at RU and are current faculty in the newly established MFA program. Alice’s fiction workshops were small--8 to 10 students--and the focus was on the student-produced writing, although a sampling of published short stories was offered. Alice was a caring, honest teacher, and I think her word and opinion is backed by the respect of other established writers.
Rachel’s classes were a bit bigger, perhaps 15-18, but she remained approachable. She used her extensive background in scholarship to help the discussions, and was very honest about her own craft. We sampled poets from Anthony Hecht to W. B. Yeats, so when student-produced work was on the table expectations were high. We also wrote critical evaluations of particular poets (I chose Gerard Manley Hopkins and was able to later publish an essay produced during her course).
I obviously recommend both Alice and Rachel to prospective students, but this is merely information on one program. Could others share their experiences from different programs? I think prospective students who view this blog would appreciate specific notes on faculty members.