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Randy Phillis received his Bachelor of Arts in English language and literature, as well as his Master of Fine Arts in creative writing-poetry from Wichita State University and went on to earn his PhD in American literature and creative writing from Oklahoma State University. He teaches Writing and early American Literature.

In his courses, students are responsible for their own learning and class time is spent in a variety of activity and discussion formats. He edits Pinyon, Colorado Mesa University's national literary magazine.

Phillis has an extensive list of creative publications, including more than 150 poems in 75-plus different journals and academic book chapters. He has edited 73 magazine issues and 21 books since joining CMU's faculty in 1992. He has also served as a judge or juror for 57 local, university, state and national contests, prizes and art symposiums, including the Colorado Poet Laureate appointment committee. He has published three collections of poetry and performed more than 50 poetry readings nationally.