The Graduate Center, CUNY’s Leon Levy Center for Biography Announces Its 2017–2018 Fellowship Winners

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The Graduate Center, CUNY’s Leon Levy Center for Biography Announces Its 2017–2018 Fellowship Winners

The awards will support completion of biographies of Black Panthers leader Eldridge Cleaver and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, among other works

NEW YORK, May 9, 2017 The Graduate Center of the City University of New York’s Leon Levy Center for Biography today announced the winners of its 2017–2018 resident fellowships, which will support the completion of four diverse biographies covering iconoclasts in the arenas of racial justice, business and government, poetry and historical fiction.

More than 100 writers submitted their work for consideration this year. Each of the four winning fellows will receive a $65,000 grant, writing space and full access to the Graduate Center’s research facilities for the duration of their fellowship.

“The Leon Center has a mandate to foster excellence and innovation in biography, and this year’s fellows are exploring the lives of extremely complex individuals, who together also paint an intriguing portrait of the diversity of America,” said Kai Bird, executive director of the center. “Our fellowships will allow them to focus exclusively on completing these promising works, which will no doubt expand the pantheon and voice of biography in exciting ways.” The Leon Levy Center for Biography’s 2017–2018 fellowship recipients are:

Justin Gifford, who is writing a biography of Eldridge Cleaver (1935–1998), a founder of the Black Panthers and a leading figure in the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Gifford, a professor of African-American Literature at the University of Nevada, will base his biography on more than 30,000 documents. His book will be published by Lawrence Hill Books, an imprint of Chicago Review Press.

Eleanor R. Randolph, who will pen a biography of Michael Bloomberg, a business tycoon and the mayor of New York City from 2001 to 2013. Randolph is a veteran New York Times reporter and editor. As a member of the Times editorial board from 1998 to 2016, Randolph wrote about Bloomberg’s years in City Hall. Randolph’s biography is under contract with Simon & Schuster.

Bruce Jay Weber, who is working on a biography of E.L. Doctorow, an American novelist (1931–2015) whose works include Ragtime and Billy Bathgate. Weber, a former New York Times arts correspondent and obituary writer, first met Doctorow in 1985. His biography is under contract with Scribner.

Lindsay Whalen, who will complete a biography of poet Mary Oliver, winner of both the Pulitzer Prize (1984) and the National Book Award (1992). Whalen, a former book editor, has exclusive access to Oliver’s archives. Her biography is already under contract to Penguin Press.

The resident fellowships will begin in September, and, over the course of a year, the fellows will work on their biographies while participating in monthly seminars and the Leon Levy Center’s annual lecture and conference.

In addition to announcing the forthcoming resident follows, the center also announced that Graduate Center PhD candidate Micki Kaufman has been selected for the 2017–2018 dissertation award for her thesis on Henry Kissinger, who served as secretary of state and national security advisor under former Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

About the Leon Levy Center
The Leon Levy Center of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York was established in 2007 as a hub for writers, scholars, students, teachers, and readers of biography. The center — made possible through a generous gift from the Leon Levy Foundation — endeavors to build connections between independent and university-affiliated biographers across disciplines and cultivate important discussions about the art and craft of biography.

About the Graduate Center, CUNY
The Graduate Center (GC) is the principal doctorate-granting institution of the City University of New York (CUNY). Positioned at the center of the largest urban public university in America, the GC fosters pioneering research and scholarship in the arts and sciences, and trains graduate students for careers in universities and the private, nonprofit, and government sectors. Unlike typical research-intensive universities, the Graduate Center focus exclusively on graduate education, with over 35 doctoral and master’s programs, and 20 research centers, institutes and initiatives. Every year, GC students teach over 200,000 CUNY undergraduates, with another 150,000 undergraduates taught by GC alumni in virtually every college and university across the City. Through its public programs, the Graduate Center enhances the City’s intellectual and cultural life. Visit to learn more.


Submitted on: MAY 9, 2017

Category: Leon Levy Center for Biography | Press Room