The Ashley Fellow is a visiting scholar who gives public lectures, resides on campus and participates in the academic and college life of the university. Those who wrote passionate submissions in favour of MacLeod's nomination remarked that, as one of the major sensations on the Canadian and international literary scene, he would greatly enrich the academic and creative experience of students at Trent.
MacLeod expressed his delight at the announcement and anticipates a wonderful experience at Trent University in the coming year. "I am very pleased and honoured to be recognized in such a way by Trent University," said MacLeod. "I feel very positive about Trent in general. I was a short term writer in residence and I have done readings there. I look forward to being at Trent and making whatever contributions I can." MacLeod particularly looks forward to interacting with students. "People of a certain age forget that we were young once," he said. "We have to think of 18 or 19 year old writers not as they are now, but as what they might become in future years."
"Any university English Department would be proud to have an author of Alistair MacLeod's stature as a visitor," commented Professor James Neufeld, Chair of Trent's English Department. "But here at Trent, we feel as though we are welcoming back an old friend. Alistair has paid frequent brief visits to Trent in the past, and his Ashley Fellowship will be something of a homecoming. We are excited that a new generation of students will have the chance to meet this extraordinary writer and special man."
Though retired from his position as Professor
at the University of Windsor, Alistair MacLeod continues to be
a part of the life of the university. He has received honorary
degrees from University College of Cape Breton (1991) and St.
Francis Xavier University (1987).
A film "The Lost Salt Gift of Blood" based on MacLeod's story of the same name opened at Filmhouse Theatre in Toronto in 1989. In 1983, a film based on "In The Fall" was released.
The Ashley Fellowship was established in
1976 with a bequest from the late C.A. Ashley, a professor, long-time
friend of Trent and proponent of the value informal contacts
can add to college and academic life at a university.