Fall 2004 Newsletter of the Council of Writing Program Administrators

From the President

Welcome to the second digital WPA newsletter! Last year, we created a pilot electronic newsletter and made it available through the WPA-L, which at the time was the only way we could reach the membership besides direct mail. Thanks to the painstaking work of Dave Blakesley (working with Jennie Dautermann), we now have an email membership database that will allow us to communicate with you electronically about news, events, and important organizational issues.

As you'll see in this newsletter, the Council is energetically working on its annual events, including the WPA reception at the MLA convention in Philadelphia, the WPA Breakfast in San Francisco, and next year's conference, workshop, and assessment institute to be held in Anchorage in July. A number of initiatives are in full swing, including the newly established Media Action Network, which just released its first public document. The WPA affiliates have been active, and we welcome a large new Midwest affiliate and have heard about others being planned. Recent WPA book and article awards have celebrated some fine new work, and a call for next year's research grants is soon to be released. Under the leadership of a large, dynamic team at Arizona State, the WPA Journal is making new scholarship and commentary available to subscribers and others. And the WPA Consultant-Evaluator Service continues to attract clients, including our first international institution.

In the midst of all this new and ongoing activity, higher education continues to face important challenges, some related to broader public and political trends. I hope that your involvement in the WPA has provided you with information, advice, and opportunity--I know that is has for me, and remains a constant source of collegiality and intellectual stimulation.

Look for new information about our digitally enhanced membership system soon. In the meantime, my best wishes to all of you for a productive and enjoyable academic year.

—Chris Anson, President

Alaska! Join us in July 2005

by Shirley Rose, Vice President

The University of Alaska at Anchorage will be the site of the 2005 Summer Workshop and Conference of the Council of Writing Program Administrators. The Workshop will begin on Sunday afternoon, July 3, and continue through Thursday morning, July 7. The Conference will begin Thursday evening and continue through Sunday morning, July 10.

In addition to the plenary speakers and concurrent sessions addressing the conference theme, "Writing as Writing Program Administrators," the program will offer two special features. Back by popular demand, small-group breakout discussion sessions will follow plenary talks, giving us a chance to keep the conversation going. New this year, a series of professional development mini-workshops on writing as a writing program administrator will be presented by experienced WPAs. Planned workshop topics include Developing an Administrative Portfolio, Documenting a Writing Program, and Writing about Writing Programs for Public and Professional Audiences. Be sure to point out these professional development opportunities to your department chair or dean when you request funding!

Before, during, and after the conference, local conference chairs Jeff White and Trish Jenkins are planning a variety of recreational and cultural activities to introduce us to Alaska, including a Thursday evening orientation and outings on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. To enable conference attendees to begin planning as soon as possible, review of proposals for concurrent session panels, roundtables, poster sessions, and multimedia presentations will begin on October 15 and continue until the program is filled. A formal Call for Proposals for concurrent sessions will be posted on the conference website at http://moose.uaa.alaska.edu/wpa2005/


Knotted Threads from WPA-L

by Carol Rutz, Carleton College

Summer brings on many a pleasant fantasy, when even hard-working WPAs can take a well-deserved break. Among those fantasies is the classic desert island scenario, where one calculates the bare essentials one would need to survive--physically, emotionally, intellectually--on a desert island. Elizabeth VanderLei didn't really have a desert island in mind when she initiated a thread about the one text we would offer a student beginning graduate study in rhetoric and composition, but the responses from Wendy Strachan, Gerri McNenny, David Stacey, Tom Pace, and many more certainly exhibited a survival theme. Check the archives (URL below) for the list that Elizabeth compiled of the recommendations.

A number of published reports on literacy attracted attention on the list in recent months. For example, Raul Sanchez drew attention to a report called "The Hollow Core: Failure of the General Education Requirement," published in April by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a conservative organization that offers support for the notion that teachers of general education courses in writing should be well prepared. In response, Jeanne Gunner distributed a piece from the LA Times decrying formulaic writing instruction to produce formulaic writing, noting that support for good teaching practices can come from some surprising sources. One can easily draw a connection to several threads in recent weeks about machine scoring of student essays, including the shared human/machine scoring responsibilities for the new SAT. This one ain't going away, folks. Another widely read report on a national trend of declining reading of fiction and literature led to a spirited defense of reading basically anything--whether in print, on line, or even CNN news crawls. Kathy Fitch, C.J. Jeney, Fred Kemp, Kenneth Wright, Katherine Oldmixon, and a cast of dozens weighed in. As that discussion developed, Rich Haswell wondered whether high school reading lists are tailored to popular testing programs, such as AP. David Jolliffe's explication of AP English text choices for their exams quieted that worry. Doug Hesse alerted the list to the College Board Review's special issue on The Art and Craft of Writing, <http://www.collegeboard.com/about/newss_info/publications.html> Given the fuss over the new writing portion of the SAT, we do well to be aware of how the College Board is presenting writing to its publics.

Keith Rhodes' departure (or defection or relapse) to law, he declares, bears no connection, none whatsoever, to his miserable performance over the years as Grand Poobah and High Commissioner of the WPA Golf Tour. Whether this flimsy assertion is to be accepted among the larger membership remains to be seen. In the interim, Greg Colomb gallantly declined to inherit the golf tour mantle. As he put it, "I lack the Poobah's skill in improving a lie"--yet another assertion that remains untested.

Check the WPA-L archives <http://lists.asu.edu/archives/wpa-l.html> for instructions for joining the list as well details on these and other threads, including recommendations on classroom texts, the ethics of job advertising, and creative definitions and geographical examples of "the middle of nowhere."


San Antonio Breakfast Yields No Ghost Sitings

by Lauren Fitzgerald, WPA Breakfast Committee

The WPA held its annual CCCC breakfast just across the street from the Alamo, in the historic (and reputedly haunted) Menger Hotel. We honored Edward M. White for his years of leadership in the Council's Consultant-Evaluator Service and distributed other awards as well. If you missed the chance to dine with fellow WPAs and to catch up with news of the organization, many of the announcements can be found in this newsletter. Thanks to the other members of the breakfast committee for helping to plan a terrific event: Clyde Moneyhun, Carol Rutz, and Chet Pryor. Even though Chet couldn't make it to the breakfast, his presence was felt in the excellent pens and key fobs he got for us. Thanks, Chet!


Reaching Out with WPA-NMA

by Linda Adler-Kassner, Chair, WPA-NMA

The WPA Media Committee has been in the process of developing the Network for Media Action (WPA-NMA) for several months. At the Delaware conference, the NMA held a SIG; attendees agreed that the NMA should continue to develop through the NMA web site, but also try to begin working on our charge of shifting the tenor of public discussions about college-level writing/writing instruction in mainstream media even without the site. To begin working on this goal, we decided we would launch a small, focused campaign around a particular issue in conjunction with the beginning of school. SIG attendees decided that "plagiarism," since it's always hot (as recent discussions on this list have demonstrated), would be attractive to mainstream media/audiences. We decided that the best approach would be to draft a generic document -- something like a press release, but something that would require "doctoring" to incorporate the NMA's strategy of always tailoring our outreach efforts (like letters to the editor, op-ed columns, interviews, and so on) to local sources and local audiences. For that purpose, Joel Wingard put together a template document Ð something like an extended press release Ð which was distributed via the NMA listserv. NMA members have used the document, tailored to their local concerns and issues, for various purposes. Some, for instance, have distributed to their institutional public relations staff, who have in turn sent it to local media. Others have used it as the basis for appearances in local media for discussions about student writing and defining and preventing plagiarism through good teaching. The NMA web site should be up and running in the next 2-3 months. In the meantime, if WPA members are interested in learning more about the WPA-NMA, contact Linda Adler-Kassner, NMA Coordinator, at Linda.Adler-Kassner@emich.edu, or subscribe to the NMA listserv by going to https://list.emich.edu/mailman/listinfo/nma and following the prompts.


Best Book and Article Awards

by Joe Janangelo, Book and Article Awards Committee At the WPA conference in Delaware, the Best Book Award was given to two titles: The Writing Program Administrator's Resource: A Guide to Reflective Institutional Practice, edited by Stuart C. Brown and Theresa Enos Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 2002, and The Center Will Hold: Critical Perspectives on Writing Center Scholarship, edited by Michael A. Pemberton and Joyce Kinkead. Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2003. The award was given to books published in 2002 and 2003. The Best Book Award Committee was composed of Joe Janangelo (Chair), Clyde Moneyhun, Duane Roen and Elizabeth Vander Lei.

At the CCCC breakfast in San Antonio, Mary E. Hocks accepted an award for Best Article for "Using Multimedia to Teach Communication Across the Curriculum." The article appears in WPA: Writing Program Administration 25.1/2 (Fall/ Winter 2001). The award was given for articles published in 2001 and 2002. The Best Article Committee was composed of Clyde Moneyhun (Chair), Joe Janangelo, Dennis Lynch and Elizabeth Vander Lei.


WPA Journal

Duane Roen, Barry Maid, and Greg Glau, Managing Editors

At the annual conference in Delaware this July, journal editors met with members of the Editorial Board to conduct an anchoring session. In addition to discussing a manuscript, reviewers also discussed more general procedures for processing submissions. Another Editorial Board meeting will be scheduled for CCCC in San Francisco on Saturday, March 19, 2005.

The fall issue is nearing production. Editorial work has been completed on all the manuscripts for the forthcoming articles and reviews. Barry Maid has started converting the Word files to Adobe InDesign format before sending them to the printer.

The fall issue will include, in alphabetical order, the following articles: Pamela Bedore and Deborah F. Rossen-Knill, "Informed Self-Placement: Is a Choice Offered a Choice Received?"; Darsie Bowden, "Small Group Instructional Diagnosis: A Method for Enhancing Writing Instruction"; Laura Brady, "A Case for Writing Program Evaluation"; Risa P. Gorelick, "Review of Noise from the Writing Center"; Morgan Gresham and Kathleen Blake Yancey, "New Studio Composition: New Sites for Writing, New Forms of Composition, New Cultures of Learning"; Kristine Hansen, Suzanne Reeve, Richard Sudweeks, Gary L. Hatch, Jennifer Gonzalez, Patricia Esplin, William S. Bradshaw, "An Argument for Changing Institutional Policy on Granting AP Credit in English: An Empirical Study of College Sophomores' Writing"; and Candace Spigelman, "Politics, Rhetoric, and Service-Learning. " Keep those manuscripts coming in, folks.


3rd Annual Assessment Institute Highly Assessed

by Susanmarie Harrington, Institute Leader and Board Member Twenty-five enthusiastic participants made the 2004 Assessment Institute a great success! Focusing on "Practical Assessment: Entrance, Placement, and Transfer," institute leaders Susanmarie Harrington, Marlene Miner and Dan Royer led participants through structured discussion and group activities designed to foster an understanding of the practical options for placement testing, strategies for evaluating the level of campus and program support for placement testing, sources for additional reading about placement testing, understanding of the main issues involved in instituting reform of placement practices, and support for validation of existing placement programs. Participants' responses credited the Institute success to the breadth of information provided on varied assessment options (such as directed self-placement and online testing, and on scoring approaches such as expert-scoring or dynamic criteria mapping), as well as to a well-designed resource packet that should help them apply their day's worth of learning to new projects back home.


Digital WPA

by David Blakesley, WPA Web Developer

Dave will be asking the Executive Board and the WPA Network for Media Action Committee to begin user-testing a prototype of the new WPA website during October. We expect to make a more formal announcement to the membership about the new site by the end of the year. In the meantime, we now have a new "Announcements Only" distribution list for WPA members that will be used to distribute newsletters and information about WPA events and initiatives. The archives of the WPA journal will be published when the new WPA site goes "live." Members will be kept up-to-date by email and with printed announcements. If you have suggestions for Digital WPA, please contact Dave at blakesle@purdue.edu.


Delighting in Delaware

The WPA held its annual summer conference, workshop, and assessment institute at the University of Delaware July 11-18, focusing on the theme "Re-envisioning Writing Program Administration: Knowledge, Roles, and Authority." The conference, which began after the conclusion of the week-long summer workshop and all-day assessment institute (both reported on elsewhere in this newsletter), brought together almost two hundred participants from across the country to participate in workshops and panel sessions, hear three excellent plenary addresses by Kathi Yancey, Eli Goldblatt, and Joan Mullin, celebrate accomplishments, and continue to work on the pressing issues facing us as teachers, administrators, and scholars. A delightful reception with the Libby McDowell Jazz Band followed the opening address. Friday's suite of sessions culminated in a reception featuring the Composition Blues Band, and a Saturday evening banquet gave way to dancing to retro rock 'n roll band The Juveniles. Lest it appear that attendees only ate, drank and partied, serious conferencing began early in the morning, continued throughout the day at well-attended sessions, and survived into the social activities in the evening. This year marked the first WPA conference poster session--modestly, for starters, but a venue that we intend to develop further and make a permanent part of the conference. Our deepest thanks go to local conference co-chairs Barb Lutz and Clyde Moneyhun, and also to members of the conference program committee, Raul Sanchez, Lauren Fitzgerald, and Chris Anson.


Welcome New Board Members

In July, three newly elected members to the Executive Board began their three-year terms. Rebecca (Becky) Moore Howard joins us from Syracuse University, where she is Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric. Cynthia (Cindy) Martin hails from the Community College of Denver, where she is Chair of the Developmental English Center for Educational Advancement. And Martha (Marty) Patton brings over a decade of experience with WAC as Adjunct Professor in the Campus Writing Program at the University of Missouri in Columbia.
 

Summer Workshop Brings Fun in the Sun

by Irwin "Bud" Weiser, Workshop Leader The 2004 WPA Workshop attracted twenty participants from institutions spanning the higher education spectrum, from community colleges to small liberal arts schools, elite private universities, and regional, comprehensive, and research public universities to Lewes, Delaware and the University of Delaware's Virden Center. Led by Kathleen Yancey (Clemson) and Irwin (Bud) Weiser (Purdue), participants who direct first-year writing programs, writing centers, WAC programs, and comprehensive writing programs spent three and a half days in discussions, writing, and individual consultations with Kathi and Bud. Workshop topics included WPA roles and responsibilities, program design, curriculum development and trends, assessment, staffing and professional development, and more. Local arrangements, including terrific meals and snacks and suggestions for recreational activities, were provided by Clyde "It's the beach!" Moneyhun and Barbara "We can do that!" Lutz.

Planning for next year's workshop, to be led by Bud Weiser and Lauren Fitzgerald, Director of the Yeshiva College Composition Program and the Writing Center, is already underway. Bud and Lauren invite new and continuing WPAs to join them in Anchorage, Alaska, from July 3-7 for what promises to be a useful and enjoyable opportunity to meet other WPAs and learn more about the work we do.


JOIN US AT MLA!

The WPA invites you to its annual reception at the MLA convention in Philadelphia. The reception will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 29, from 5-7 p.m., in the Hilton Garden Inn, 1100 Arch Street, Philadelphia (next to the convention center). There will be free wine, beer, and hors d'oeuvres, as well as a cash bar for mixed drinks. Look for more information on WPA-L. Thanks to Eli Goldblatt and Vanessa Allen-Smith of Temple University for helping with arrangements.

Thanks and Praise

In July, the Executive Board said goodbye to three terrific people who had finished their three-year terms on the board: Clyde Moneyhun (now at Stanford University), Meg Morgan (UNC-Charlotte), and Elizabeth Vander Lei (Calvin College). In addition to their service in multiple capacities on the Board, all three had coordinated WPA summer conferences: Clyde at this year's Delaware conference, Elizabeth at last year's conference in Grand Rapids, and Meg in 2000 at the conference in Charlotte.


C-E Service Goes International

by Deborah Holdstein, Director, CE Service The Consultant-Evaluator Service has just completed another successful academic year. In 2003-2004, the Service sent teams to five institutions, one of which was the first overseas visit of a C-E team (to Cairo, Egypt). For AY 2004-2005, there have been numerous inquiries, several requests, and, even at this early point in the academic year, two confirmed visits for which teams will be identified. For further information on the Consultant-Evaluator Service of the Council of Writing Program Administrators, contact Deborah Holdstein at d-holdstein@govst.edu.

WPA Allied Membership in MLA

 

by Chris Anson, President The WPA's allied membership status in the Modern Language Association was renewed this year, following a thorough review of the WPA's activities, membership, and organizational leadership. The review is conducted every seven years. Allied membership provides the WPA with two guaranteed events on the MLA's annual conference program. These are typically used to sponsor panels on issues relating to writing programs and writing instruction. The WPA also hosts a reception at the MLA, but it is not part of the official program.


Nominations Invited

The WPA will be seeking nominations for a slate of three Executive Board members and a new Vice President, all of whom will begin their terms in July of 2005. Look for a call over the membership email list and on WPA-L soon.

 


Your Membership

The WPA will soon move to a new, biannual membership renewal system. Your membership will expire either in July or December of each year, and you will be able to renew it electronically, using a credit card. In the meantime, if you have questions about your current membership status, please contact WPA Secretary Jennie Dautermann at Dauterjp@muohio.edu.
 

About Us

The Council of Writing Program Administrators is a national association of college and university faculty with professional responsibilities for (or interests in) directing writing programs. Members include directors of freshman composition, undergraduate writing, WAC/WID/CAC, and writing centers, as well as department chairs, division heads, deans, and so on. WPA publishes a journal and newsletter, holds an annual workshop and conference, makes grants and awards, develops position statements, offers consulting and program evaluation, and fosters extensive discussions about college writing and writing programs. Faculty and graduate students with professional interests in writing program administration are cordially invited to join WPA.


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