Life brings a lot of changes sometimes and this is a pretty good one for Richard Byrne Inc.: Starting September 29, I will be the editor of a new magazine that's being started at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).
I am an alumnus of the university -- English Honors, 1986 -- so it's a year-round homecoming for me. I'm immensely honored by the invitation to come back.
Going to UMBC was the best decision of my early career as a writer and journalist. It's where I met John Strausbaugh -- also an alum -- who helped me break into journalism at Baltimore City Paper in 1986. And James Taylor -- another alum whose Shocked & Amazed magazine explores the wonderful world of the carnival sideshow -- gave me my first internship at his literary publishing house Dolphin-Moon Press. (I think I still have paper cuts from all the envelopes I stuffed, but you couldn't get a better education in the journalism and literary business than from John and James.)
With the help of writers including the poet Anthony McGurrin -- who still teaches at the university -- my own creative work developed enough to win a fellowships to the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets and to the Writing Program at Washington University in St. Louis after graduating.
The primary focus of UMBC Magazine is going to be on telling the university's story to its alumni, but it's also going to spread the news about the great things going on at UMBC to other constituencies as well. (And it's going to have a terrific website.)
UMBC's story is pretty amazing. Under the leadership of President Freeman A. Hrabowski III, the university has rocketed into prominence -- including being named a top five up-and-coming national university in the most recent U.S. News and World Report rankings. Just as important, UMBC also placed second in the Princeton Review's recent rankings for "Most Diverse Student Body" in the United States.
It's a terrific opportunity and I can't wait to get started. The first issue will be published in February.