Jeff Metcalf

Jeff Metcalf was a beloved and highly popular Professor of English at the University of Utah who taught playwriting, young novel writing, teaching methods, and literature classes. Additionally, he worked in the Honors College teaching documentary filmmaking that combined members from the community-at-large with students from the Honors College. These documentaries focused on social justice issues and were directed at offering a voice to those who are marginalized in our society.

Metcalf was an award-winning professor, playwright, author, and filmmaker whose work has appeared in numerous anthologies, film venues, on National Public Radio, and in international theatrical arenas. He was the author of an award-winning play, A Slight Discomfort, that traveled extensively throughout the United States with performances in five different countries and twelve states. The play explores Metcalf's own journey through prostate cancer with humor and compassion and, in 2019, traveled through Denmark on a one-year tour. A full-length documentary, Buying Time, (2019) examined the intersection of art and medicine as it pertained to Metcalf's life.

Metcalf was the recipient of 2019 Cathedral de Madeleine Award in the Humanities, 2017 National Society of Leadership Excellence in Teaching Award, 2016 Taft-Nicholson Artist-in-Residence Award, 2015 Surel’s Artist-in-Residence Award, 2014 Distinguished Teacher Award University of Utah, the 53rd Utah Arts Council Award for Creative non-fiction (Requiem for the Living, University of Utah Press), the 2008 Career Teaching Award from the University of Utah, the Huntsman Award for Excellence in Education, a Fulbright Memorial Scholar Award, the National Council of English Teachers Award, the Lifetime Advocacy Award from Writers @ Work, and grants from both the Utah Humanities Council and the Utah Arts Council, as well as numerous other teaching awards.

Metcalf’s most recent works include, Wacko’s City of Fun Carnival (Fiction), The Great Christmas Tree Lot Fiasco (Essay), Back Cast (Collection of Essays), Requiem for the Living (Memoir) and Hope, Heart and the Humanities (Educational, co-authored with four other educators).

At the heart of his 40+years of teaching, Metcalf’s focus had always been creating social justice programs to help people without a platform find a way to become visible and vocal members of their community. As director of the Humanities in Focus documentary program, Metcalf was involved in the making of over eighty short documentary films. A number of these documentaries have gone on to receive awards at the Sundance/FireFilms Award competition.

Jeff Metcalf died on June 11, 2020, after a long battle with cancer.



  • Requiem for the Living: A Memoir, University of Utah Press (Salt Lake City, UT), 2014.
  • Back Cast: Fly Fishing and Other Such Matters, University of Utah Press (Salt Lake City, UT), 2018.