Stephen Kuusisto ’78 was recently named director of the Renée Crown University Honors Program, an all-University program administered by Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences. Kuusisto is an accomplished poet and disability rights advocate. In his new role, he will be responsible for the department’s budget and oversee faculty and staff. He will also be a tenured university professor in the Department of Cultural Foundations of Education, an interdisciplinary graduate program in the School of Education.
“Stephen Kuusisto is an accomplished scholar and a distinguished professor whose work underscores the interdisciplinary spirit of the Honors Program,” says George M. Langford, dean of The College of Arts and Sciences. “I am confident that he will build on the program’s legacy of excellence, promoting both the liberal arts and undergraduate professional education.”
Kuusisto, who has been legally blind since birth, is an accomplished writer who has published half a dozen books, including the recent “Do Not Interrupt: A Playful Take on the Art of Conversation” (Sterling, 2010), and “Planet of the Blind” (The Dial Press, 1998), a best-selling memoir about his struggles with blindness. He also has published more than 100 essays, articles and poems in Harper’s, the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post Magazine and other leading publications.
His talents as an author have granted him appearances on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Dateline NBC,” National Public Radio, the BBC, Voice of America, “Talk of the Nation,” Animal Planet, and The Arts & Entertainment Network, among others.
Through Kaleidoscope Connections LLC, a company co-founded by Kuusisto and his wife Connie, he speaks widely on diversity, disability, education, and public policy. In addition, Kuusisto is also a spokesperson for Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
Kuusisto earned a B.A. in English from Hobart College, with Honors. He was a Fulbright scholar, and went on to earn a M.F.A. in English from the University of Iowa. Prior to Syracuse University, Kuusisto taught at the University of Iowa as a professor of English and ophthalmology. He also held a position at the university as a public humanities scholar at the university’s Carver Institute for Macular Degeneration.