2020 CWPA National Conference

The CWPA Road Trip:
Departures, Detours, and Destinations in Writing Program Work

Circus Circus/Silver Legacy Resort, Reno, NV

Conference: July 12-14, 2020
Workshop: July 15-18, 2020
Institutes: July 15, 2020



Good things tend to happen when we step out of our comfort zones and explore new spaces, whether these are physical/intellectual spaces within our colleges and universities or outside its walls—in communities, cyberspace, and more. For that matter, writing studies has a history of “road tripping” to other scholarly spaces—for example, cognitive and developmental sciences, social sciences, technology studies, management and business, economics…the list goes on. Sometimes we bring knowledge to these other spaces, as when we work on writing in the disciplines; perhaps more frequently, we find that the new perspectives we gain from our “road trips” help us to explore our own disciplines in new and exciting ways. For 2020 in Reno, I’d like us to explore what happens when we step outside of our more comfortable scholarly and physical spaces—when we take a “road trip.”

As you consider proposing a session or poster, here are some questions that might guide you:

  • What was your road to writing-program administration? Was it a smooth one? What draws people to this sort of work?
  • Is writing-program administration a long-term stop on a career trajectory, or is it more of a “rest stop” that one pauses at on one’s way to something else?
  • How has your destination evolved over time? How has the destination of writing-program work as a whole evolved?
  • What connections do you see between writing-program administration and other major “cities” in academia? How does writing-program administration connect to upper admin, for example? How does it connect to the faculty role?
  • What findings or theories from other disciplines are especially productive if we bring them back home to writing-program administration?
  • How do we stay healthy—physically, emotionally, mentally—on our WPA journeys?
  • What happens when life sends us on a “detour”? How do we manage being a WPA when funding dries up, a family member needs help, or we are confronted with roadblocks we couldn’t anticipate?
  • Traveling companions can make or break a road trip. What is the importance of community in writing-program administration? How do we foster good traveling companions?
  • What would be your WPA road trip “mix tape” or “playlist” of scholarship that you want on repeat?
  • If you were organizing a road trip for a new-career WPA, what scholarly regions would you make sure they visited?
  • If you’ve been at this for some time, what wisdom from the road can you share?
  • How can we prepare folks new to the field—graduate students, junior WPAs—for a successful and sustaining journey?
  • Are there roadblocks to entering the field of writing studies? To becoming a WPA? How do we navigate them?
  • What is the frontier in WPA work? Where do we need to go? How do we get there?

I hope you find these questions generative. However, I also want to encourage you to propose sessions based on other issues you find pressing or important about WPA work.

Join Us!

CWPA welcomes those who participate in "writing program administration" writ large. This includes work at multiple sites within 2- and 4 year institutions: writing centers, first-year writing programs, professional and technical writing programs, community writing programs and collaborations with secondary schools, ESL writing programs, WAC and WID programs, institutional assessment programs, multi-modal programs, and any other place where writing instruction happens. CWPA also welcomes those who participate in writing-centered programs outside of college settings—community-based programs, those working with incarcerated individuals, programs working with special populations such as veterans or immigrants, and more.

There are three parts to the annual conference:

  • The conference itself (July 12-14): We invite proposals for posters, panels, individual presentations, and interactive workshops as part of the conference schedule. For the past few years we have put a priority on encouraging interactivity, and I’d like to encourage you to continue thinking about how to involve attendees in problem-solving and discussion. The conference commences with an early evening reception and plenary on Sunday, July 12, and concludes in the evening on Tuesday, July 14. 
  • The post-conference institutes (July 15). This year’s conference will feature two institutes. One is Sustainability in Unsustainable Conditions: Supporting Faculty with High Teaching Loads, facilitated by Cheri Lemieux Spiegel and Courtney Adams Wooten. The second is Supporting Undergraduate Research, facilitated by Megan Titus, Dominic DelliCarpini, and Mike Mattison.
  • The post-conference workshop for writing program administrators (July 15-18).  This intensive workshop is designed for both new and continuing WPAs, providing the opportunity to learn from experienced WPAs about both the theoretical/intellectual underpinnings of our work and the practical, day-to-day knowledge needed to succeed as a WPA. The 2019 Workshop Leaders will be Mark McBeth, Michelle LaFrance, and Darci Thoune.

Proposing a Session or Poster

Conference Proposals

Session times will run 60 minutes, with 20-minute breaks between sessions. We are happy to accept both individual and full-session proposals as follows:

  1. 15-minute individual presentations. Presenters may submit individual paper or presentation proposals; these will be combined into panels/sessions with around three presenters.  We’ll once again try to put you in touch with one another in advance of the conference so that you can develop a coherent panel.
  2. Full-session proposals. You may submit a proposal for a session with groups of 3 or more presenters/facilitators. We encourage you to consider innovative, interactive delivery methods.
  3. Poster presentations. You are welcome to develop a poster presentation by yourself or with others. You could either work with a group to develop a full session with 4 – 6 posters, or propose an individual poster presentation, and we will form sessions on related topics. We will provide a regular conference slot for these sessions to allow for conversation, and we will ask you to be present during this slot to discuss your poster with attendees.


Here are some ideas:

 Develop a session that briefly describes an innovative approach that you have tried, plan to try, or might try. Invite discussion, critique, and creative, collaborative problem-solving so that participants leave with new approaches for work on their campus.

  • Develop interactive debates on key issues facing the profession that can then be widened to include audience participation. Perhaps begin with short position statements and then open to audience questions and comments that invite innovative solutions. Or name a common problem we face, and then invite the audience to innovate with you.
  • Present a scenario that surfaces a challenge that you are currently facing, provides background information and your initial impulses for addressing the challenge, and then calls for innovative approaches to solving it. Feel free to create full session proposals from a set of similar issues faced on different campuses.
  • Choose a key topic, and develop a series of short, rapid-fire presentations(20 slides, 20 seconds per slide, PechaKucha-style) with 4 - 6 presenters, leaving plenty of time for audience discussion. 
  • Briefly describe research-in-process with the goal of audience suggestions, feedback, or to find research partners. This will give scholars the chance to share ideas, provide suggestions, and/or even propose collaborative research teams for cross-institutional research, inviting potential partners to attend. 
  • Develop an interactive seminar on an innovative WPA technique or skill that you have learned. These seminars are meant share effective WPA practices that go beyond the things we learn as scholars of our discipline. You might help participants learn more topics such as: collecting data that can help to advocate for resources; innovative graphics to display assessment findings; using pertinent tools and technologies for budget development; new technologies for empirical research; methods for focus groups or interviews; developing IRB applications and ethical practices for human subjects research; creating interactive curriculum development or assessment sessions; garnering publicity for your programs’ work; doing advocacy work in the community; developing outreach centers or initiatives.

 Listing Your Session in a Strand

We will feature several strands of sessions, and you can indicate your desire to be featured in one of the strands in your proposal.  

  1. Gender and Sexuality Strand: This strand will be devoted to sessions focusing on how gender and sexuality impact WPA work—both in our professional community and in the classroom. Please feel free to email Mark McBeth for advice and to let him know you have submitted a proposal for this strand.
  2. Mentoring Strand: This strand will be devoted to professional development and mentoring issues. If you are submitting a proposal in any format to talk about mentoring (broadly defined), please indicate so in the proposal; it will be directed to the chair of the CWPA Mentoring Project for review. Also feel free to email Joe Janangelo for advice and to let him know that you have submitted a proposal intended for the mentoring strand. For more details, please visit the CWPA Mentoring Project on the CWPA website.
  3. People of Color Caucus Strand: CWPA's People of Color Caucus will offer a strand of sessions devoted to issues of racial and ethnic diversity in writing program administration related to scholars, teachers, students, and administrators of color. If you are submitting a proposal in any format that relates to issues appropriate for this strand, please indicate so in the proposal; it will be directed to the chair of the CWPA POC Caucus for review. Also feel free to email Genevieve Garcia de Mueller for advice and to let her know that you have submitted a proposal intended for this strand.
  4. Self-Care Strand: This strand will delve into issues of self-care, emotional labor, and wellness—for our students and ourselves. Please feel free to email Jacob Babb or Courtney Adams Wooten for advice and to let them know you have submitted a proposal for this strand. 
  5. Two-Year College Strand: This strand will be devoted to topics related to, involving, and discussing the contexts of two-year colleges. If you are submitting a proposal in any format that relates to issues appropriate for this strand, please indicate so in the proposal. Please feel free to email Meagan Newberry or Cheri Lemieux Spiegel for advice and to let them know you have submitted a proposal for this strand.
  6. Tenure-Free Strand: This strand will address the impact and influence of untenured and non-tenure track WPAs and faculty in writing programs. Please feel free to email Paula Patch for advice and to let her know you have submitted a proposal for this strand.

Submitting Your Proposal

We will begin accepting proposals in early January, 2020. Conference fees will be released around the same time. 


Final deadline for Conference Proposals: March 1, 2020. We will work hard to give you a quick turn-around on a rolling basis, so please feel free to submit earlier!


Please direct Reno-related questions to James Webber ( Please direct proposal-related questions to Mark Blaauw-Hara at


Collegially yours,

Mark Blaauw-Hara, PhD
CWPA President
Writing Program Coordinator, Professor of English
North Central Michigan College