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Southern Illinois U. med school hires first poetry professor; dean is her father
Emily Carr, poetry professor Southern Illinois School of Medicine

Carr describes herself as ‘ecofeminist,’ writes abortion poetry

The Southern Illinois University School of Medicine briefly employed Emily Kruse Carr, the daughter of its dean, as its first poetry professor this fall, university records show.

Carr, a creative writing professor and self-described “ecofeminist” and “beach witch,” joined the medical school as an assistant professor of medical humanities and medical education in August, according to her LinkedIn profile and university records.

“Emily Carr’s last day at SIU School of Medicine was Friday,” Rikeesha Phelon, spokeswoman for the university, told The College Fix last week.

Phelon confirmed that Carr was “briefly employed” in the area of medical humanities, which she said helps “inform medical education, policy and practice” through the study of “philosophy, history, religion, social sciences and the arts, including creative writing and poetry.”

Carr was “the first poetry professor on faculty” at the SIU School of Medicine, a public institution, according to an Ms Magazine op-ed, published in October.

Not mentioned in the article, however, is that Carr’s father is Jerry Kruse, the dean of the medical school. Kruse’s curriculum vitae on the school website and a 2012 article and family photo published in a University of Missouri School of Medicine newsletter both link Carr and Kruse as father and daughter.

Phelon told The Fix that Kruse was not involved in hiring Carr.

“Ms. Carr was selected through a competitive selection process that followed our standard protocols and policies for interview and selection committees. This process did not include Jerry Kruse,” she said.

Asked why Carr is no longer employed and if her position was temporary, the university did not respond. A page on Carr’s personal website lists four upcoming events connected to the medical school in 2024, suggesting she planned to stay longer in the position.

Adam Andrzejewski, CEO of Open The Books, an Illinois-based government spending watchdog, said the situation should make taxpayers wonder.

“There are 5,800 institutions of higher learning across America. What are the odds that Carr landed at the only institution that employs her father as dean and provost?” Andrzejewski told The College Fix. “Was Carr’s father part of the decision to create this new role and was there an open process to consider each candidate equally?”

He also questioned “how and if creative writing serves a medical school’s core mission.”

“Political ideology, like this poet’s ‘ecofeminism,’ has made its way into every corner of government from the Pentagon to public classrooms,” Andrzejewski told The Fix.

“Illinois is the super bowl of small-‘c’ corruption. This is a good example of what’s legal yet costs students and taxpayers dearly,” he added.

The university did not respond to The College Fix’s questions about Carr’s salary and duties.

Kruse also did not respond to several requests for comment from The College Fix in the past two weeks, asking if he is involved in hiring practices and what was done to ensure there was no conflict of interest in his daughter’s hiring.

Prior to her job at the medical school, Carr taught creative writing at New College in Florida, according to Ms Magazine. However, Carr said she resigned in July after being named in an opinion article criticizing the dearth of ideological diversity at the school.

Her father’s medical school hired her a month later, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Carr was not listed on the SIU Medical Humanities Department website, but her LinkedIn profile describes her new position.

The professorship included serving as project manager for the medical school’s Story Slam project and overseeing 11 staff, student employees, and contractors, according to her LinkedIn profile. Story Slams are events that welcome individuals to share personal stories, often with audiences voting for which ones they like best.

Her other duties included “hosting virtual and in-person storytelling workshops, providing one-on-one storytelling coaching in-person and online,” and coordinating Story Slams twice a year, according to her LinkedIn profile.

The medical school hosted a Story Slam on Oct. 12 with nine storytellers, including medical students, faculty, and staff, according to Carr’s personal website.

While hosting the event, Carr described herself as a “doctor of poetry” and a “joyous revolutionary art educator,” according to a video on SIU Medicine’s YouTube page.

“I would actually like to argue that storytelling is the antidote to our massive cultural dysfunction and for that reason hugely valuable,” she said at the event.

Carr also ran the medical school’s Diagnostic Poetry Project, working with librarians and student interns to “research diagnostic poems” and incorporate them into the medical curriculum, her profile states.

Additionally, she was tasked with creating “learning objectives” for a new Digital Storytelling clerkship that relate “to the physician as individual in the content areas of communication and mindfulness,” creating digital storytelling workshops, and organizing a weeklong “bootcamp” for more than 80 medical students, according to her profile.

Before to her job at the medical school, Carr said she taught classes on “The Sexual Politics of Meat,” “Poetry Recess,” and “How a Woman Becomes A Lake, and Other Unheroic Acts: a Seminar in Gender and Genre Bending,” according to Ms Magazine.

In the magazine, Carr described herself as “a beach witch, love poet, ecofeminist professor” who is “famous” for her poetry about abortion, anorexia, tarot, and divorce. She said she enjoys playing “tarot at the beach with my puppy,” and describes her poetry as “dangerous.”

MORE: University at Buffalo medical school puts ‘antiracism’ at center of curriculum

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.