In July 2011 the CWPA Executive Board will say goodbye to members Melissa Ianetta, University of Delaware; Brian Huot, Kent State University; and Susan Thomas, University of Sydney. Additionally, Joe Janangelo, Immediate Past President, Loyola University (Chicago) will leave the Executive Board; Linda Adler-Kassner will succeed him as Past President; and Duane Roen will become CWPA President. We therefore will elect three new Executive Board members and a Vice President.
Voting tokens for the election will be distributed electronically to current WPA members on January 25. Only current members are eligible to vote. Voting will take place for three weeks, and results will be announced in mid-February.
The Executive Board oversees the CWPA, its events activities; forms policies and procedures for its management; and engages in special projects and initiatives. The new board members will serve for three years, with terms beginning in July 2011. The new Vice President will have a six-year commitment—two years in each of the following positions: Vice President, President, and Immediate Past President.
Continuing Executive Board members are Duane Roen, President, Arizona State University (term ends 2013); Linda Adler-Kassner, Immediate Past President, University of California, Santa Barbara (term ends 2013); Chuck Paine, University of New Mexico (term ends 2012); Doug Downs, Montana State University (term ends 2012); Darsie Bowden, DePaul University (term ends 2012); Eileen Feretti, Kingsborough Community College (term ends 2013); Barbara Lutz, University of Delaware (term ends 2013); Shelley Reid, George Mason University (term ends 2013). Ex-Officio members are Charles Lowe, Treasurer and Web Developer, Grand Valley State University; Keith Rhodes, Secretary, Grand Valley State University; Cristyn Elder, WPA-GO (Graduate Student Organization) representative, Purdue University; Charles Schuster, Director, Consultant Evaluator Service, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee; Doug Hesse, Associate Director, Consultant Evaluator Service, University of Denver; Alice Horning, Journal Editor, Oakland University; Debra Dew, Journal Associate Editor, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs; Glenn Blalock, Journal Associate Editor, Our Lady of the Lake College.
Members will vote for one candidate in each of the four pairings below:
Vice President: Vote for Rita Malenczyk or Elizabeth Vander Lei
Rita Malenczyk is Professor of English and director of the Writing Program at Eastern Connecticut State University, a position she has held (in untenured as well as tenured capacities) since 1994. In addition to directing the WAC program and having oversight of ECSU’s first-year composition program, in 2008, she founded and continues to direct ECSU’s writing center. Prior to her appointment at Eastern, she taught in the Expository Writing Program at New York University, where she was a graduate student WPA. She served on the Executive Board of WPA from 2006 to 2009; while on the EB she chaired the Best Book and Article Award Committees and served, as well, on the Nominating and Liaison Committees. From 1997 to 2000, she helped lead the Steering Committee of the Outcomes Group to develop what ultimately became the WPA Outcomes Statement for First-Year Composition. She has also served CCCC, chairing its Committee on Academic Quality from 2004 to 2006. Her scholarly work, which focuses primarily on the rhetoric and politics of writing program administration, includes not only the co-edited collection The Outcomes Book, but also articles and reviews in WPA: Writing Program Administration. Her essays have also appeared in numerous edited collections, including Shirley Rose and Irwin Weiser’s The Writing Program Administrator as Theorist; Lynee Lewis Gaillet and Michelle Eble’s Stories of Mentoring: Theory and Praxis; and Linda Myers-Breslin’s Administrative Problem-Solving for Writing Programs and Writing Centers. Since 2004, she has been a member of the Editorial Board of WPA.
Statement: Former WPA President Theresa Enos—whom I did not know at the time—invited me into WPA as a conference program committee member in 1997, when I’d started taking part in conversations on the WPA-L listserv about the implications of unprotected faculty serving in high-level administrative positions. As an untenured assistant professor and WPA, I had been through some unpleasant political maneuverings at my own institution; since at the same time CWPA was preoccupied with similar events surrounding at least one of its more prominent members, my concerns meshed well with those of the organization. Though those particular concerns have since faded, CWPA has continued to be a crucial part of my intellectual and professional life for the last 13 years. I would like to take my work and experience with the organization even farther than I already have, and I’d welcome the challenges that being Vice President and, later, President would bring.
I think my particular strength as a potential organization leader is my ability to understand WPA work from a number of different perspectives. My duties at ECSU, for instance, have ranged from WAC faculty development to writing center tutor training, to collaborative development of placement procedures, to curricular and programmatic design and re-design. As a former graduate student WPA and, then, embattled junior WPA, I have experienced and negotiated the challenges vulnerable faculty face. And as an active member of ECSU’s AAUP chapter—which I joined because I felt the need to represent WPA work as intellectual to those who may not understand it as such—I’ve had to come to terms with the place of writing program directors within larger institutional cultures and constraints.
What would I like to accomplish for the organization? First, I’d continue supporting the excellent initiatives begun over the last few years—WPA-GO and the Network for Media Action, to name just two—and make them consistently visible by maintaining a presence at important venues such as the WPA website, the summer conference, the table at CCCC, the WPA breakfast at CCCC, and the special sessions at MLA. I’d continue to provide for the ongoing professional development of our members through resources they’ve found valuable (e.g., the Summer Workshop, the Assessment Institute, mini-workshops at the summer conference). Perhaps most importantly, however, I’d like to strengthen one WPA initiative that seems, at least in my view, to have languished: the diversity initiative. Several years ago the WPA articulated a commitment to diversifying the organization as a whole and the Executive Board in particular, which is lacking in representation from WPAs or WPA-equivalents at (for example) historically Black colleges and universities, tribal colleges, even—to a lesser extent--community colleges. Diversifying a national organization requires focus and commitment, and I would bring that to such an effort, exploring avenues through which we might expand our membership base and, ultimately, our leadership. There are good models for such initiatives—the National Writing Project, for example, has been successful over the years with Project Outreach—and I would hope that, at the end of my service, we’d be able to look at an organization that more accurately reflects the richness and variety of the work we do and the people who do that work.
Elizabeth Vander Lei is a Professor of English at Calvin College, a liberal arts school with an undergraduate enrollment of around 4,000 students. There, she is Director of Written Rhetoric and co-chair of the Department of English. Elizabeth has served on the CWPA Executive Committee, the Editorial Board for WPA, the 2003 WPA Conference Local Committee, the WPA Conference Siting Committee, the WPA Research Awards Committee, the WPA Best Book/Article Committee, and the WPA Breakfast Committee. She has served the larger professional community as a member of the CCCC Executive Committee and the CCCC Exemplar Award Committee; she reviews for the WPA, College English, College Composition and Communication, and Pedagogy.
Elizabeth has published articles on writing program administration, first-year writing pedagogy, African American rhetoric, and the intersections of academic writing and religious faith. She has published Real Texts, a WAC textbook for first-year writers (2nd edition, with Dean Ward) and Negotiating Religious Faith in the Writing Classroom (edited with Bonnie Kyburz). She is a founding member of the Symposium on Rhetoric and Christian Tradition, which hosts a SIG meeting every year at CCCC.
Statement: I am proud to call the Council of Writing Program Administrators my professional home because this organization does so much so well. I believe that CWPA is a successful organization because we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to savvy, well-informed professionals, some of whom are just starting out and some whom have had impressive experience in higher education administration. CWPA exists to serve its members and the students in their writing programs, and we do so in several formal ways: Through the WPA journal, conferences, and research awards, CWPA fosters scholarship on issues of concern to all of us. CWPA organizes and supports ad hoc groups of smart, hard-working members who draft policy statements on key issues for WPAs; many of us have used those statements to lobby successfully for improvements to writing instruction on our own campuses and across the nation. Additionally, CWPA offers annual workshops and the consultant-evaluator service to help WPAs professionalize themselves and their writing programs. I have used all of these services as a WPA, so I appreciate their value. Equally valuable to me has been the way that CWPA has helped me build professional relationships with other WPAs from across the nation. Getting to knowing CWPA members has been my greatest professional delight, and CWPA members and I have helped each other in so many ways: thinking through scholarly ideas, addressing crises in our writing programs, commiserating over administrative failures, and celebrating our successes. If I were elected vice president, I would do all I could to promote CWPA: to advertise CWPA as a nationally recognized resource for writing programs in higher education; to rely on CWPA members’ knowledge and skills in the development of new CWPA policies and statements; and to foster professional relationships among CWPA members.
Because CWPA does so much so well, we have much to offer other people and organizations; I believe that we must continue to shape conversations about writing that occur within the sphere of academia (by collaborating with NCTE, CCCC, TYCA, and IWCA, for example) and beyond—to the conversations about writing that occur in business and political settings. Through the Network for Media Action, CWPA has enjoyed some success at influencing public opinion and political discussions. Finding encouragement in that success, I challenge CWPA members to dream big about what we as an organization can accomplish.
Executive Board Member #1: Vote for Peter Adams or Stephen Ruffus
Peter Adams has taught for thirty-five years at the Community College of Baltimore County, where he has both directed the writing program and chaired the department. He currently directs the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP), a basic writing program that combines mainstreaming, acceleration, and cohort building, and has doubled the success rate of developmental students for six consecutive semesters. ALP has received a research grant from CWPA in 2008, has been designated by the Conference on Basic Writing as the Innovative Basic Writing Program of the year in 2009, received the Diana Hacker Award for Innovation in 2010 from TYCA, and is the focus of a major research project by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University this year. ALP is described in the fall 2009 issue of the Journal of Basic Writing.
Peter chaired the Conference on Basic Writing from 1988 to 1992 and continues to serve on its executive committee. He served on the editorial board of the Journal of Basic Writing 1994-97 and on the board of TETYC 1994-96. He has published three basic writing textbooks and has presented more than forty papers at NCTE, CCCC, WPA, and others.
Statement: As a brand new WPA, I attended my first WPA conference in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1988 and have been an enthusiastic supporter of the organization ever since. CWPA has had an important influence on the political landscape for higher education, on writing programs across the country, and on individual writing faculty both while they are directing writing programs and, as in my case, for years after.
At this time when community colleges are receiving national attention, when responsibility for basic writing in many states is being shifted to community colleges, when data is showing that basic writing and developmental education in general have not been nearly as successful as we had hoped, and when major initiatives to improve basic writing (not all of them benign) are being proposed, I would like to see WPA continue to expand its connections with community colleges. This should include continuing to build our relationship with TYCA, but also reaching out to community college faculty to encourage their participation in our activities.
I also would like to work to encourage both universities and community colleges to re-think their roles as basic writing increasingly migrates to the two-year colleges. For example, most scholarship on basic writing over the past fifty years has originated in universities; community colleges may have to re-examine their traditional teaching role to encourage some faculty to take on responsibility for research in basic writing. Two-year college faculty have seldom applied for grants from foundations, but Gates, Lumina, and Hewlett among others are now looking to invest large sums in community colleges, especially in the area of basic writing, so grant writing is another new responsibility faculty at community colleges should be considering. And universities may need to change too. Graduate programs need to become aware of the changing landscape at two-year schools and to prepare large numbers of their graduates to teach there. Also, universities can conduct major research projects in local community colleges, much as CCRC at Columbia is doing now. Finally, all of us at two- and four-year schools need to play a more active role in the political environment that may have a major impact on our field. CWPA can make important contributions in all these areas, and I would like to contribute what I can to make that happen.
Stephen Ruffus has been a member of the English Department at Salt Lake Community College since 1989; from 1990-2002 he was Writing Program Coordinator; since 2004 he has served as department chair. He is a co-founder of the college’s Student Writing Center and the Community Writing Center. Previously he was an instructor in the University Writing Program at the University of Utah and a writer-in-residence in an arts-in-education program for the state of Utah. He has been a member of CCCC for over twenty years and served a term on its Executive Committee for which he chaired the Exemplar Award Committee and served on the Status of Women in the Profession Committee. Stephen has been a member of the editorial boards of CCC, TETYC, and the CCCC Studies in Writing and Rhetoric Series. He has presented at CCCC, TYCA-West (for which he has been program chair), Computers and Writing, RMMLA, and WDHE. In 2010 he was an invited speaker at the Watson Conference on Rhetoric and Composition. He co-edits The Mercury Reader and the Pearson Custom Library: Introduction to Literature. He has co-authored the instructor’s manual to The Call to Write and published a chapter in Research Writing Revisited: A Sourcebook for Teachers. At various conferences he has spoken of the material conditions for teaching at community colleges and how the organizational philosophies of these institutions and their positions within the higher education system influence curriculum, teaching, and opportunities for faculty and students. He is currently interested in the recent renewal of research on the subject of knowledge transfer.
Statement: As a member of the CWPA Executive Board, I would seek to advance a greater understanding of the nature of writing programs at community colleges, speak to the political and economic conditions that shape how those programs are designed and situated, and address specific issues related to writing instruction that are unique to such institutions. Since a vast number of U.S. college students take their writing courses at community colleges, I believe it is increasingly important for organizations such as CWPA to represent the work undertaken by both faculty and students at community colleges, particularly in the current social and educational climate. I hope to further the membership’s awareness of these and other writing program issues at these schools:
The characteristics of first-year composition
Approaches to teaching, learning, and assessment
The function of writing centers;
Full-time and adjunct faculty development
I am grateful to CWPA for the invitation to appear on the ballot and applaud its effort to bring community colleges into the conversation.
Executive Board Member #2: Vote for Dylan Dryer or Mark McBeth
Dylan Dryer comes to Orono, Maine, via Memphis, St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia, and has interspersed grad-studenting, adjuncting, and being on administrative staffs with a lot of different bartending, landscaping, and office gigs. After becoming involved with the field as a graduate-student WPA at UW-Milwaukee, he served as Associate Director of the University Writing Program at Drexel University.
Now Assistant Professor of Composition Studies at the University of Maine, he has published in WPA, JAC, Composition Forum, and Writing & Pedagogy; an article in-press at the Community Literacy Journal describes a group of citizens’ written engagements with a city department of urban planning and its assumptions about their neighborhoods. He presents regularly at CWPA, CCCC, Maine Writing Project summer institutes, and represents ‘higher ed’ on language-arts curricular alignment issues at the State Department of Education. He facilitates interdisciplinary Dissertation & Thesis Studios and workshops for faculty and graduate students through the UMaine Center for Teaching Excellence & Assessment. He serves on the WPA Network for Media Action and, with Rich Haswell, co-edits the CWPA-CompPile Research Bibliographies.
Statement: Around 8 pm of the first evening of my first CWPA summer conference, I noticed that after a long day of intense shop-talking in panels, plenary sessions, coffee-breaks, and SIGs, everyone had dispersed into nearby coffeehouses and bars or gone for walks—to talk more shop. I knew then that this was home.
That passionate commitment was reason enough to admire CWPA, although I’ve now found a better one: this organization manages, against geographic, financial, and ideological odds, consistently to harness the energies of all this shop-talk for positive action.
Because I’ve worked with a lot of different people in a lot of different contexts over the years, I know that getting things done means listening for ways to further existing momentum. If elected to the Executive Committee, I would listen closely for opportunities to help:
Find more ways to subsidize the transformation of local research into replicable results and to support its dissemination.
Build better bridges with all 50 State Departments of Education. As they expand their purview to “K-16,” they need research-based guidance from centers of writing expertise in their state colleges and universities.
Expand efforts to recruit a broader range of experiences and institutional affiliations to our conferences, listservs, and mentoring programs.
Pay close attention to the unglamorous back-office genres like policy guidelines, framing statements, room-capacity certificates, and conference schedules that produce our working conditions.
Bring our expertise to bear on the civic, institutional, and personal writing opportunities and obligations for communities “outside” our academies.
There are those who take a not-always-welcome interest in what we do. But that’s a measure of status that not everyone on our campuses enjoys: everyone thinks what we do is important. Our talk with other stakeholders can and should start from this position of strength.
Mark McBeth: Over the past two decades, I have studied, taught, and administered in a variety of university roles at the City University of New York. From 1992 to 2001, I coordinated the composition program at City College of New York, after which I directed the college’s writing center. After completing my Ph.D. at the CUNY Graduate Center, I became the Deputy Chair of Writing Programs at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. While in this position, I developed and implemented a new writing curriculum, restructured the WAC program, and initiated a variety of college-wide literacy programs (i.e., Pre-Law Boot Camp, Subway Series: A Common Learning Experience, WAC Faculty Writing Intensive Certification).
Beyond my local administrative duties, I have also contributed to the national conversation on writing and writing administration through my publications as well as my WPA/CCCC activities. Most recently, my article “Memoranda of Fragile Machinery: Mina Shaughnessy as Intellectual Bureaucrat” appeared in WPA Journal as well as received a special recognition award by the Council of WPA (2009). I have published in many of the nation’s composition/rhetoric and education journals as well as published a book on nineteenth-century teacher education at Cambridge (co-authored with Pam Hirsch, Newnham College, Cambridge). I am also currently the co-chair of the CCCC Queer Caucus.
Statement: I offer the WPA Executive Committee a perspective from the urban public university where some of the most linguistically diverse and educationally varied students enroll. My experience with a broad range of student diversity accompanied by the budgetary constraints endemic to public university education has highly influenced my divergent approaches to writing program administration. In the bureaucratic morass of publicly funded education, where lack of money and student need collide in daunting ways, creative pedagogical thinking and earnest administrative risk-taking must often step in when funds and student/faculty preparedness fall short. Instead of considering these problems a negative hurtle, however, I have always approached my administrative duties as an opportunity to think differently (read: optimistically) about bureaucratic strategies and in some cases to critique and remedy the systems in which these problems exist. Instead of accepting the status quo of established “ways of doing things,” I have always endeavored to work with my colleagues to explore unconventional solutions to problems that will benefit the learning and teaching lives of students and instructors.
To the WPA Executive table, I will bring an attention to administrative detail that combines experience, a lot of creativity, and an equal share of hard work and good humor.
Executive Board Member #3: Vote for Kate Ryan or Leslie Werden
Kate Ryan has been a WPA since 1998 and a member of WPA since 2001. Her first WPA role was as a doctoral student, when she served as the Assistant Director of the Composition Program at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. She was a graduate faculty member and the Undergraduate Writing Coordinator at West Virginia University from 2001-2005. Since 2005, she has been the Director of Composition at the University of Montana. She also currently co-chairs the recently formed High Mountain WPA affiliate, which focuses on the concerns of WPAs and writing faculty in the rural West. Her teaching includes first year composition, advanced composition, and graduate courses on teaching college composition. UM’s 2008-2009 first year composition curriculum is spotlighted on the NCoW website. Her research focuses on Writing Program Administration and feminist rhetorical studies. Her publications, broadly conceived: re-conceptualize rhetorical studies to account for feminist exigencies, theorize administering writing programs humanely, and explore how subjectivity matters to acts of knowing/composing. She has published in CCC, WPA, Rhetoric Review, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Composition Studies and Feminist Teacher. She recently co-edited Walking and Talking Feminist Rhetorics: Landmark Essays and Controversies with Lindal Buchanan, and she is completing a collaborative book project on identity and writing program administration, GenAdmin: Theorizing WPA Identities in the 21st Century. Her next book project centers on theorizing feminist ethos.
Statement: These commitments translate into three lines of inquiry that would direct my contributions to the Executive Board. First, to echo Robert Thayer, where we are shapes who we are, and what we do. How do the many places and spaces where we do our WPA work inform the work we do together? Second, the rhetorical agility Melanie Kill advocates for students is valuable for WPAs too. How can rhetoric studies help us further theorize WPA action? Third, my work aims to, in Gerda Lerner’s words, “celebrate difference and banish hatred.” How can we continue to support this call fruitfully in a predominantly white, heterosexual organization in a still feminized field in a patriarchal world? Taking these complex questions into account would guide my efforts to work productively with members of the Executive Board and CWPA to continue to make our organization a productive site for our joint exploration of composition pedagogy and writing program administration.
Leslie Werden found her interest in WPA work when she was a graduate student at Winona State University. During spring semester of 2000, she was asked to step in as the Acting Writing Center Director and serve on WSU’s Composition Committee. While she completed her PhD at The University of North Dakota, she served on the English Department Executive Committee, helped pilot a new curriculum for Business & Technical Writing and for Composition II, and developed training programs for new MAs preparing to teach in the Composition Department. She continues to develop her history of scholarship and service connected with creative, sound pedagogical approaches as evidenced by her 2004 MLA presentation on “Virginia Woolf and First-Year Composition” and her 2009 WPA Presentation on “What is College Writing.” In 2006, she began work at Morningside College as an Assistant Professor of English and Director of First-Year Studies (freshman seminar and composition). Presently, she is building and chairing a new Department of Writing & Rhetoric at Morningside where she also chairs the college’s Committee for the Assessment of Student Learning. Werden was a member of the CCCC Resolutions Committee (2009-2010) and is currently a member of the CCCC Newcomer’s Committee (since 2009). Last year, she served on the Grants Committee for CWPA and this year will serve on the Best Article Committee. She is also an inaugural member of the new WPA Affiliate for Independent Writing Programs.
Statement: I believe I am in a unique situation as a WPA because the Morningside College administration was (and is) actively seeking ways to focus on writing across our campus where we are currently creating an independent writing program staffed by faculty from all disciplines. Understanding the task in front of me, I immediately found a great support system in the CWPA for what I knew was going to be a rewarding and challenging task of building an independent writing program from scratch (especially in a small, private, liberal arts college). In this capacity, I believe my fresh perspective as a relatively new WPA and experience building a program will help me identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for my colleagues. One weakness WPAs continually face is hearing the mantra from non-writing faculty that “my students should have learned that in composition” when it is evident that writing skills need to be developed over time. This is why I believe it is important for the CWPA to focus on how transference of knowledge occurs so we can create programs that highlight strategies for building WAC programs, then train faculty across campus on how to integrate these strategies effectively. On a positive note, I am thrilled when I hear news of how other WPAs or non-writing faculty are building creativity and focused writing into their courses, which is why I hope to find opportunities through CWPA to promote and recognize those technological and innovative teaching methods, classroom activities, and research projects. I feel privileged to have been accepted into this organization so quickly and would be honored to serve and assist others so they, too, might be embraced by such wonderful colleagues.