UNCW Mourns the Passing of Faculty Member Philip Gerard

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

The university is deeply saddened by the death of Professor of Creative Writing Philip Gerard. Gerard, who passed away on Nov. 7, 2022, was a prolific author and one of the department’s founders and leaders.
“Philip arrived at UNCW in 1989 and quickly turned a fledgling professional and creative writing curriculum into a well-organized, well-administered and very popular concentration within the English major,” said Mark Cox, creative writing professor and department chair. “As the track grew and other creative writing faculty were hired, he subsequently was the chief force behind the planning, establishment and coordination of our MFA program in 1996. In 1999, he was instrumental in the establishment of creative writing as an independent department, and in the 2000s served for seven years as department chair. It is no exaggeration to say that Philip was at the core of creative writing’s evolution here from the very beginning.”
His wife, Jill Gerard, is an instructor in the UNCW creative writing department.
Professor Gerard published 16 books of fiction and creative nonfiction, including The Patron Saint of Dreams, Down the Wild Cape Fear, and the legendary historical novel, Cape Fear Rising, about the 1898 coup and massacre that took place in Wilmington. Two of his books are seminal textbooks used in universities across the nation.
“He published more than 200 stories and essays in distinguished venues, amassing a highly respected body of work that only a very driven and committed writer could manage,” Cox added. “But it is never just about the numbers. Philip’s work always took on ambitious topics – war, politics, racial injustice, history – contributing substantially to our literature both nationally and in North Carolina.”
Gerard’s latest book, North Carolina in the 1940s: The Decade of Transformation, was released in August 2022. He will also be remembered by readers across North Carolina and beyond for his poignant series of Civil War columns for “Our State” magazine, among many other publications. In 2019, he was honored with a North Carolina Award, the highest civilian honor in the state, for significant contributions in the field of literature. He earned an MFA from the University of Arizona and a B.A. from the University of Delaware. Professor Gerard will be keenly missed by the Department of Creative Writing and the entire UNCW community.

To contribute support to the Philip Gerard Graduate Fellowship, visit
Grief support is available to UNCW students through the University Counseling Center. Support for faculty and staff is available through UNCW’s Employee Assistance Program and Ginger, an app offered in partnership with the UNC System that provides confidential, on-demand emotional and mental health support.