What’s Next for PanU?

The 'Fake Dean' reflects on what the PanU community accomplished and what's next for the Pop-up School of Writing

We wrapped the summer semester last week with Ethan Lou’s fascinating seminar on investigative journalism techniques. It was a proud but bittersweet moment for me.

Before our virtual community was even a community — before you started calling it “PanU” and I took on the role of “Fake Dean” — it was a simple idea to make the best of a bad time. I wanted to help alleviate the financial losses suffered by writers, such as myself, in the wake of the pandemic, while simultaneously encouraging other writers who were sheltered in place, bored out of their minds, including myself, to resurrect a passion project or develop some new skills.

I’m taking a break from the full-suite semesters until next spring, but I’ll keep running PanU part-time, managing the Replays and varsity swag in the Campus Shop, and, yes, organizing semi-regular workshops.

I won’t re-tell the origin story. Suffice to say, my vision was realized save for the one of me personally writing more. To my surprise, and delight, PanU became a full-time job with a small team of freelance talent, most notably our social media editor Samantha McCabe and the many author-instructors who taught over the course of five months.

Before sharing some news with you, I want to thank them all, as well as my other partners and collaborators: Joel Burford of Anoa Digital, Matthew Stepanic and Jason Purcell of Glass Bookshop, graphic designer Erik M. Grice, and marketing specialists Sarah Hoyles and Hanna Waller. Here’s an overhead look of what we accomplished.

Back to my plans for PanU. As mentioned, managing this literary experiment ironically forced me to pause my literary career more than the pandemic itself did. I’m taking time to return to writing with my toolbox of freshly honed skills. I’ll pause the full-suite semester series until spring but continue to run PanU part-time, managing the Replays and varsity swag in the Campus Shop, and, yes, organizing semi-regular workshops.

In the coming weeks, we’ll announce a fundraiser seminar for Media Girlfriends in partnership with Tavanberg, as well as our first multi-day course Write Your TV Comedy Pilot in Six Weeks.

Taught by returning instructor Kaitlin Fontana, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and host of the screenwriting podcast OnWriting, the intensive will see nine students write, workshop, and rewrite their pilot over six classes. More information soon…

We’re also hosting a FREE workshop by Mohammed Asaduallah of Benji, a financial tech company he founded with Canadian freelancers in mind. Mohammed will discuss how much of your income should be but aside for taxes, how to tax clients in outside provinces, and, best of all, what can and can’t you write off? I’ve personally used Benji and found it to be remarkably useful and simple for preparing my expenses during tax season. It’s geared toward Canadians, but freelance creatives everywhere will learn a lot about running their business better. You can enroll for free right here.

Sign up for our mailing list for announcements by filling out the form below. Any writers interested in hosting a seminar, multi-day course, or book launch on our platform can email us at info@pandemicuniversity.com.

Thanks for making this a genuinely special experience.

—Omar Mouallem, Fake Dean