Inaugural 2023-2024 M. Garren Tinney Writing Fellows

January 19, 2024

The UCSB Writing Program in the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) is proud to announce the inaugural 2023-2024 M. Garren Tinney Writing Fellows: Sophia Campion ‘24 (BA, Writing & Literature; BS, Psychological and Brain Science), Maya Salem ‘24 (BA, Writing & Literature; BA, Communication), and Elaina Smolin '24 (BA, Writing & Literature).  Thanks to the newly established M. Garren Tinney Memorial Fund, these talented students each received a fellowship to support the completion of a substantial writing project by the end of the academic year.

In loving memory of UCSB alumnus Michael “Garren” Tinney’s life and experiences, Donna “Dee Dee” Tinney—Garren’s mother—established the M. Garren Tinney Memorial Fund at UCSB in June 2023 to honor the memory of her son and his interest in and passion for writing.  The Fund provides numerous opportunities, now and into the future, for UCSB undergraduate students committed to writing and who have an interest in pursuing writing-related careers.  In addition to the M. Garren Tinney Writing Fellowships, the fund will support the M. Garren Tinney Travel Awards and three separate M. Garren Tinney Writing Awards. Each of the Tinney Writing Awards will be managed, respectively, by the Writing Program, the Writing & Literature program at the College of Creative Studies (CCS), and UCSB Department of English.

The three M. Garren Tinney Writing Fellows were selected by a committee of Writing Program faculty from a pool of strong applicants.  According to the M. Garren Tinney Memorial Fund Committee Chair Robert Krut, “In reading all of the applications, we were overwhelmed by the talent of our UCSB undergraduate writers, and the high quality of all of the submissions.  It is a wonderful reminder of the excellent writing being done on campus, and the ongoing potential of our undergraduates.”

The three selected writers are currently working on extensive, book-length projects.  To assist and support in this work, each student has a faculty mentor—the inaugural mentors include Kara Mae Brown, Michelle Grue, and Ellen Whittet—to guide them through the process and look ahead to future professional and literary opportunities. During Spring quarter, the Tinney Fellows will present their completed works.

As Dr. Karen Lunsford, UCSB Writing Program Chair, explains, “Each M. Garren Tinney Writing Fellowship represents an opportunity for the recipient to complete a unique, often personal, project that will introduce their writing to the world.”

M. “Garren” Tinney came from Oklahoma City to UCSB as an English major and continued his studies at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Garren passed away on December 7, 2019. Garren valued free speech, education, and above all else, using the written word as a means to communicate the many insights he garnered over 41 years as a survivor of grief and student of the human condition. Over the course of his short life, Garren prided himself on his multifaceted occupational pursuits. He worked in politics in Washington, D.C., entertainment in Los Angeles, journalism and public relations in Manhattan, New York, and finally achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a writer in Pasadena, California, completing dozens of short stories, novellas, and novels.

The Tinney Travel Awards is currently accepting applications.  Open to all UCSB undergraduate students, further information (and application) can be found at:  The Tinney Writing Awards with a cash prize will be open for student submissions in Spring quarter. The next application for the 2024-2025 Tinney Writing Fellowships will be in Fall 2024.

Michael “Garren” Tinney

Sophia Campion ‘24 (BA, Writing & Literature; BS, Psychological and Brain Science)

Maya Salem ‘24 (BA, Writing & Literature; BA, Communication)

Elaina Smolin ‘24 (BA, Writing & Literature)