We’re delighted to welcome Joseph P. Coulson, Ph.D., as president effective August 11, 2014. Coulson brings more than 20 years of educational experience, including teaching, administration, and curriculum development, and is also a recognized essayist, novelist, poet, and playwright.
“The work of the Great Books Foundation is more important today than ever before. Literacy is in decline and the humanities are under siege, but fighting the good fight are the staff, teachers, students, and lifelong learners who each day advance the methods and programs of Junior Great Books® and the Foundation as a whole,” says Coulson. “I know by experience that the dedicated practice of close reading, shared inquiry, and civil discourse is an important antidote for what ails our society. The Foundation began as a force for humanistic values, for the discussion of great literature and great ideas in the service of creating common ground. I look back to that inspiration and look forward to the difference we can make in the lives of our students and lifelong supporters. To be the new president of the Great Books Foundation is a considerable responsibility, one that I accept with passion and humility.”
Coulson’s arrival follows the retirement of George L. Schueppert who served as the Foundation’s president for 12 years. “Thanks to the leadership and fiscal guidance of George Schueppert, the Foundation is in a strong position to further expand its mission,” says Coulson. “We are most grateful for his heartfelt commitment and dedication, and we look forward to his continuing and essential role as a member of our Board of Directors.”
Coulson’s educational background and professional experience are a valued addition to the Foundation’s executive office. He studied at Wayne State University and Oxford University, and he holds a Ph.D. in American Literature from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Coulson has served as a classroom teacher, English department chair, senior administrator, English professor, and director of teacher training and professional development. He previously worked at the Great Books Foundation from 1999-2003 as senior editor, editorial director, and chief of staff. As an instructor and school administrator, Coulson was named a Master Teacher, served for several years as a Mentor Teacher and curriculum consultant, and worked to develop comprehensive teacher-training programs.
Coulson’s creative successes include two novels: The Vanishing Moon (published in 2003 and selected for the Barnes & Noble Great New Writers series and winner of the Book of the Year Award, Gold Medal in Literary Fiction, from ForeWord Magazine) and Of Song and Water (published in 2007 and a finalist for the Great Lakes Book Award). He has also published three volumes of poetry—The Letting Go, A Measured Silence, and Graph—and his play, A Saloon at the Edge of the World, showcased by Theater Artists of Marin, was a finalist for the Bay Area Critics Circle Award in 1996.
Coulson is a recipient of the Tompkins Award in Poetry and the David Gray Writing Fellowship, and his essays have appeared in journals and anthologies including The Barnabe Mountain Review, Walt Whitman of Mickle Street, The Critical Survey of Poetry, and The Greenfield Review.