December 3, 2020

Buffalo, NY – The Canisius College Alumni Association conferred its Kenneth L. Koessler Distinguished Faculty Award upon Niagara Falls resident Eric L. Gansworth, during a virtual Honors Convocation Ceremony in November.  The award, presented annually, recognizes a faculty member for teaching excellence and outstanding contributions to the academic world.  

A professor of English at Canisius and director of the college’s creative writing program, Gansworth embodies the ideal of teacher-scholar. Described as “inspiring” by his students, Gansworth shares his love of literature through such coursework as Introduction to Creative Writing, Advanced Fiction Writing and Advanced Poetry Writing.  He also teaches the important course titled Native American Literature.  Each of his classes are marked by rigor and high standards but also care and attention, which Gansworth is careful to give to each student.  

In addition to his vocation as an educator, Gansworth is a prolific creative artist whose rich body of work has garnered him a national reputation as one of the most original and important voices in Native American literature.  An enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation, Gansworth is the author of 12 books of fiction, poetry and memoir/non-fiction.  His most recent young adult novel, Apple: Skin to the Core, is a reflection of Gansworth’s life growing up in an Onondaga family but living among the Tuscaroras and Native people in the U.S.  In it, he shares personal stories about the damaging effects of government boarding schools; of a boy who watched his siblings leave and return only to leave again; and of a young man fighting to be an artist in multiple worlds.  Apple: Skin to the Core was selected to the 2020 National Book Award Longlist for Young People’s Literature.  


Read by adults and teenagers, alike, Gansworth’s books have also been adopted for courses at any number of institutions, including Colgate University, Yale University and the University of Kent, Canterbury.  Gansworth, himself, is the subject of scholarly study, most recently in Oxford University Press’ new introduction to Native American Literature. 

In addition to Canisius, Gansworth served as the 2019 artist-in-residence for the Arne Nixon Center at California State University, Fresno and the 2016 Distinguished Professor of Native Studies at Colgate University.  

One of 27 Jesuit universities in the nation, Canisius is the premier private university in Western New York. Canisius celebrates its sesquicentennial anniversary during the 2019-20 academic year, marking 150 years of Jesuit education and leadership in the city of Buffalo and Western New York.