SUNY Canton Author Receives SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching


Phil LaMarcheAn author and director of the SUNY Canton Living Writers Series has been recognized for sharing his love of the written word.

Phil K. LaMarche, an associate professor who teaches English in the School of Business and Liberal Arts, received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. LaMarche’s colleagues said he is a gifted author with boundless creativity who has influenced future generations of aspiring writers.

As the faculty member responsible for the highly successful Living Writers Series, which introduces authors to the Canton community, LaMarche received a nomination for the award from noted American author and MacArthur Fellow George Saunders.

“Phil’s excellence as a writer is, I think, related to this excellence as a teacher,” Saunders said. “It is a pleasure to dispense with the usual measured hyperbole and simply say that Phil is one of the most wildly talented writers in America.”

Saunders met LaMarche while the SUNY Canton faculty member was enrolled in Syracuse University’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. He lauded LaMarche’s first novel “American Youth” as creating a sensation with its taut, lean, lyrical voice and its wise insights into the human condition.

Phil LaMarch with an open book

LaMarche has published more than 10 works of fiction and six non-fiction pieces.

In 2012, LaMarche established the Living Writers Series in conjunction with the college’s ENGL 264 course. In 2019, North Country Public Radio (NCPR) Station Manager Mitch Teich developed a connection with LaMarche through planning and coordinating the series.

“Phil has done an amazing service to his students and the community at-large,” Teich said. “By introducing works from a variety of creative writing disciplines, studying them, and then bringing the writers to Canton, students are able to engage with writing as a living, breathing art form.”

The Living Writers Series allows students to directly interact with the authors of the material they are learning. Much of the advanced subject matter is topical, and relates to race, gender, social and political landscapes. Most recently, LaMarche has been seeking out authors who are linked with the college’s signature hands-on programming and diversity initiatives.

In addition to Saunders, LaMarche has brought noted poet, essayist and memoirist Mary Karr, United States Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, New York Times Columnist William Rhodan, essayist and performance poet Arthur Flowers, among many other celebrated authors, to the campus.

“Phil challenges his students while also providing them with the support and tools they need to rise to that challenge,” said Philip T. Neisser, dean of the School of Business and Liberal Arts. “He inspires his students with his passion for the written word and shows them ways the course material connects to their lives.”

The Chancellor's Awards for Excellence are SUNY System-level honors conferred to acknowledge and provide recognition for consistently superior professional achievement and to encourage the ongoing pursuit of excellence.

LaMarche resides in Canton with his wife Carol, who is the head women’s volleyball coach at Clarkson University, Potsdam. She previously held the same position at SUNY Canton. They have two children, Wyatt, and Colette.

About SUNY Canton

As Northern New York's premier college for career-driven bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs, SUNY Canton delivers quality hands-on programs in engineering technology, management, and healthcare fields. It is home to the Center for Criminal Justice, Intelligence and Cybersecurity. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY's leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 23 online degree programs. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also features varsity esports and cheerleading.