Independent Writing Departments and Programs Affiliate (IWDPA)

Welcome to the Independent Writing Departments and Programs Affiliate (IWDPA) page. Originally called the Independent Writing Programs Affiliate, the IWDPA revised its name to make clear that we do include writing departments, along with writing centers, WAC programs, free-standing composition programs, and units of other kinds. At present, our standard is entirely subjective: if you think you are or might be an independent writing department or program, welcome aboard. The IWDPA invites both individual and institutional members. Individual members need not be members of independent writing programs. Institutional members may come in many shapes and sizes. For information, contact Leslie Werden,  Current Officers: Leslie Werden, President; Alice Myatt, Vice President and Treasurer; Peter Vandenberg, Past President. 

If you wish to participate in our discussions, ask Barry Maid ( to add you to the FREEWRIT listserv.

Upcoming Meeting Information

Friday, April 8 • 6:30 p.m. (at 4Cs in Houston, TX). Website info:

Summer meeting will be at the CWPA Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. Date and location TBA. For conference information, check out their website:



List of Member Institutions

Many have asked us for a comprehensive list of independent writing departments and programs. The wide variety of those entities makes it difficult to prepare a list that is at once accurate, thorough, and simple. Rather than attempt that exercise in the fractals of program definition, we will simply list here all our member institutions. Those who wish to add their institutions to the list need only contact Alice Myatt at and sign up.

In the list below, the word "department" has been placed at the end for visibility even if the official name is the "Department of ..."

  • Appalachian State University - Writing Across the Curriculum & Writing Center
  • Bowling Green State University - The General Studies Writing Program
  • Binghamton University - Writing Initiative
  • Brigham Young University - College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences Writing Program
  • Carleton College - Writing Program
  • Cornell University - Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines
  • DePaul University - Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse Department
  • Duke University - Thompson Writing Program
  • Georgia Southern University - Writing and Linguistics Department
  • Grand Valley State University - Writing Department
  • Hofstra University - Writing Studies and Composition Department
  • James Madison University - School of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication
  • Loyola University (Baltimore) - Writing Department
  • Morningside College - Writing and Rhetoric Department
  • Syracuse University - The Writing Program
  • University of Arkansas-Little Rock - Rhetoric and Writing Department
  • University of California-Davis - University Writing Program
  • University of California -Santa Barbara - The Writing Program
  • University of Central Arkansas - Writing Department
  • University of Central Florida - Writing and Rhetoric Department
  • University of Florida - University Writing Program
  • University of Minnesota-Duluth - Writing Studies Department
  • University of Pennsylvania - Critical Writing Program
  • University of Rhode Island - Writing and Rhetoric Department
  • University of Rochester - College Writing Program
  • University of San Francisco - Rhetoric and Composition
  • University of the Sciences in Philadelphia - Health Communication
  • University of Texas-San Antonio - Writing Program
  • University of Toronto - Academic Writing Center
  • University of Winnipeg - Rhetoric, Writing, and Communications Department
  • Woodbury University - Writing Department

Peter Vandenberg's Report on the July 14, 2011 IWDPA networking session at the CWPA Conference

I’m writing to update members on the Summer Networking Session that took place last Thursday afternoon at the CWPA conference in Baton Rouge. As you’ll remember, the networking session kicked off the first WPA meeting of the IWDPA. Joe Bizzup, Libby Miles, and I welcomed 8-10 conference attendees to the session. In general, the conversation circulated around a number of professional and programmatic issues common to all, with each of us sharing how things are playing out in local circumstances. Here is a brief overview of the themes that came up:

  • The unintended/unanticipated consequences of separation from English; for example, some report that their programs have faced larger course caps than they experienced in English, and new programs/departments may need to anticipate courses that can tolerate larger caps so as to protect small-cap, writing intensive courses
  • In the category of “most significant challenge,” some mentioned an ongoing struggle for institutional stability, and the control to “hire and fire” the faculty teaching in their programs. For example, some are obligated to accept faculty and TAs from English departments and have limited meaningful control over quality of instruction
  • We talked a good deal about what is (or should be) common ground among IWDPA institutional members. This discussion was interwoven with the problematic metaphor of “independence”; as we talked, we tended to slide into discussion about ways in which our units—and the institutions in which they are situated—diverge. There was some agreement—in our session and in the Business Meeting, that suspending differences while we explore commonalities is in everyone’s best interest.
  • Toward that end, consensus seemed to develop around staffing/labor as a central concern of every program, whether that means TA training and oversight; the need for tenure-line faculty; efforts toward long-term renewable contracts; better benefits; expectations for contributions beyond teaching. A related need for nearly every program dependent on contingent labor is financial support for professional development; community building, and program orientation.

My notes may not be complete, and I encourage others who were at the Networking Session to share what I might have missed or reframe what I might have mis-presented. We all encourage those of you not at the meeting to help us extend the discussion on the FREEWRIT listserv.

Peter Vandenberg, IWDPA Vice-President