Rachel Toor


Rachel Toor is the author of five books of creative nonfiction: Write Your Way In (Chicago, 2016); Misunderstood (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015); Personal Record (Nebraska, 2008); The Pig and I (Penguin, 2005; Nebraska, 2009) and Admissions Confidential (St. Martin’s, 2001). Her first novel, On the Road to Find Out, was published in 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. She writes a monthly column on issues in writing and publishing for The Chronicle of Higher Education and “Everything is Copy,” which appears monthly in the Spokesman-Review. She was a longtime contributor to Running Times and in 2012 she was given an award for journalistic excellence by the Road Runners of America. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Ploughshares, SB Nation, Glamour, Inside Higher Ed, Readers Digest, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)The LA Times, and other various and diverse publications. Three times she has had essays listed as Notable in Best American Sports Writing, and once in Best American Essays, and in 2017 she received a Special Mention for the Pushcart Prize. She’s been sponsored by Athleta and SkirtSports.

After graduating from Yale, Rachel spent a dozen years as an acquisitions editor at Oxford and Duke University Presses. She has an MFA from the University of Montana.

Teaching Philosophy

After a dozen years in scholarly publishing, I came to see my role in terms of what an ex-President called “The Vision Thing.” As an acquisitions editor, I had to suss out which manuscripts could be turned into books that would make important contributions to their fields; once I signed them up, I had to help the authors get to where they wanted to go. The process was about seeing something not only for what it was, but for what it could be—an act of creative insight. It required suppression of the ego and an outward focus. Teaching has been similar for me: finding what is possible lurking within each student and working to bring that to the fore. The most important thing for me, and it's obvious, is to establish with my students bonds of trust and respect. I do not worry about maintaining authority in the classroom; instead I think about how to open myself up to students in a way that invites them to share their ideas and experiences, to take intellectual risks, and to be unafraid to claim their own ignorance.

Program Statement

I figured out that if you keep a big bowl of candy (with lots of chocolate) in your office, people will drop by with delightful frequency. The faculty and students in this program are a remarkable and eclectic group—people you want to work with, people you want to visit with.

For more information visit Rachel's website.

Contact Rachel at: racheltoor@gmail.com

Phone: 509.828.1305

Hours: T/W 4pm – 5:30pm