After nearly three decades of teaching, mentoring and helping build stronger writers through SUNY Oswego, Brad Korbesmeyer recently retired from the English and creative writing faculty -- with an honor that will carry on his legacy.

“Brad spent 30 years building one of the best playwriting tracks for undergraduates in the country,” said Leigh Wilson, Distinguished Service Professor and chair of English and creative writing. This spring semester, the department announced the annual Brad Korbesmeyer Award for Playwriting will honor an Oswego student who excels in this genre.

I have been blessed with a great number of students who truly attend class -- pay attention to what we members of the class think and have to share,” Korbesmeyer said. “Their wanting to be part of a community I'm leading for 55 minutes is heartwarming and gratifying. I've also been blessed with students who want to keep me in their lives beyond the classroom and graduation.”  

The announcement came during the creative writing program’s 50th annual creative writing contest, held via Zoom with award readings by students during the spring semester. Student winners read excerpts from their work with introductions from creative writing faculty. The audience included current students, their parents, alumni and accepted high school students into Oswego's creative writing program.  

The ceremony featured a special tribute as 20 alumni who took Korbesmeyer's playwriting course offered two-minute videos thanking Korbesmeyer, which he described as “overwhelming,” with the renaming of the award something he “will always cherish.”

Teacher and writer

Korbesmeyer, who joined the Oswego faculty in 1991 and earned the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2003, has taught playwriting, screenwriting and technical writing while remaining a generous and accessible mentor for decades. 

His playwriting work has won numerous awards and recognition. Korbesmeyer's one-act comedy “Incident at San Bajo” won the Heideman Award from Actors Theatre of Louisville, and had over 80 productions (including as an opera) in the U.S. and Canada. 

Korbesmeyer's theatrical credits include award-winning play “Open Window,” “Spirits,” “Piaf in Vienna” and a puppet theatre adaptation of “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court,” as well as the screenplay “Peace and Quiet.” His play “Twain's Last Chapter” received its inaugural reading at the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford in 2012, part of Twain's 177th birthday celebration.

During his time at Oswego, Korbesmeyer has also served as interim dean of graduate studies and associate dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Korbesmeyer earned a bachelor of journalism from the University of Missouri -- which is honoring him with a piece in its magazine -- and a master of fine arts in playwriting from Carnegie Mellon University.

As he and his wife Teresa prepare to move to Minnesota to be closer to family, Korbesmeyer will miss so many moments of connection and discovery, as well as the people of the campus community, with such memories as: “Searching for familiar faces after the graduation ceremony and striding off toward my car with my gown blowing in the breeze, letting an avalanche of the year's memories spill over me,” he said. “The rhythms of the school year will certainly be missed.”