Revolution Lullabye

June 23, 2015

White, Use It or Lose It: Power and the WPA

White, Edward M. “Use It or Lose It: Power and the WPA.” Writing Program Administration 15:1-2 (Fall/Winter 1991), 3-12. Print.

White argues that WPAs have positions of power, and they must develop ways to wield that power with other faculty, department chairs, and administrators in order to protect their writing programs. White uses his own experience, when his WAC program was attacked, to explain strategies WPAs might take to assert their power. White’s argument is laced with military metaphors. White rejects the notion that the WPA position is powerless: instead, he argues, the WPA has inherent power (whether it is “official” or “unofficial”), and those who are unwilling to take on this power should reconsider whether or not they want to be a WPA. White believes that WPAs should be tenured faculty members so that they might be in the best position possible to argue for their programs (and, in turn, for the teaching of writing.)

Notable Notes

White tells a story about coordinating a WAC program (outside the English department), and the Dean telling him that he was losing budget, release time, faculty development money. Explains institutional politics – without a WPA at the table of chairs, no one could fight for WAC. White moved the WAC program out of the School of Humanities to the Office of Undergraduate Studies, where it was protected.

Compares university politics to “foreign relations” (3)

Explains that power moves are explained passively, as if they “were the most reasonable and logical consequence of facts out of anyone’s control” (3).

Explains that many WPAs identify as scholars and writers, not “administration,” even though that is the work that WPAs find themselves doing (5).

Does give the caveat that he was tenured and “knew the ropes” (6).

In his argument, White explains that WPAs need to know “where the enemies of our program lurk, what their motives and weapons are, and how we can marshal forces to combat them. We also need to see where our allies are and find out ways to strengthen them and to keep them friendly.” (6)

Admits that his approach/perspective may seem “overly military” but acknowledges that this is the name of the administrative game (6).

lists the data WPAs should have (7)

Argues against jWPAs – don’t put yourself in a compromised position, power-wise.

explains how WPAs can promote the teaching of writing in their programs (9)

advocates as a WPA/WAC coordinator focusing on younger, untenured faculty rather than bothering with converting the “untameable” tenured faculty.

The kinds of power a WPA has with administrators: 1. Having a good program that satisfies students (and faculty); 2. Writing well-written memos, reports; 3. Gathering data about writing skills of students; 4. The national professional network of WPAs, which is very supportive

A WPA’s power in relation to English Departments mirrors the contested relationship with rhetoric and composition and literature, it depends on how the local English department has worked out that relationship.

WPAs have the final power – “to resign” (11)

Quotable Quotes

“So I had absorbed from the atmosphere [his previous experience as an administrator] certain lessons: recognize the fact that all administration deals in power; power games demand aggressive players; assert that you have power (even if you don’t) and you can often wield it.” (3)

“But my campus experience made inescapable the fact that my job as WPA included being canny with power; the WAC program would have been doomed if I had not fought back against that ‘real power’ and defeated it. I had discovered a kind of power that does not appear in flow charts, power that most WPAs have, and I was able to use it to save the program. What I did was refuse to accept the condition of powerlessness” (5).

“We must empower ourselves to do our jobs” (6).

“WPAs in general live schizophrenically, hating power yet wielding it, devoid of official power (for the most part) yet responsible for large and complex programs” (6).

“If we really don’t want to deal in power, we had better step aside, or we will be doing more harm than good” (6).

“A careful WPA will use the three basic weapons of bureaucracy to deal with these bureaucratic foes: good arguments, good data, and good allies, mixed with caution and cunning.” (7)

“The most difficult part of being a WPA is combatting those who only have scorn for our enterprise” (8).

“As every WPA knows to his or her discomfort, the staff tend to view the WPA as the boss, no matter how little power the position may in fact hold. Of course, some WPAs are the boss, with the power and the burdens that the term suggests; but most have only the responsibility of recommending hiring and changes of status. But the major power that comes with being perceived as the boss is the opportunity to improve the teaching of writing” (9)

“Certainly, the most important aspect of the WPA’s job (after survival) is the improvement of instruction. And most WPAs have substantial real and perceived power to accomplish that end” (9)

“Power is ultimately a matter of perception.” (11)

Administrators usually view faculty members who administer programs (WPAs) as more powerful than these faculty members view themselves (11)

“The WPA has much power inherent in the position.”

“This paper is, I notice, governed by military metaphors, not the kind of thing we are used to reading in these polite pages about writing and teaching” (12).

“The only way to do the job of a WPA is to be aware of the power relationships we necessarily conduct, and to use the considerable power we have for the good of the program” (12).

October 25, 2013

Artze-Vega et al, Privilgeing Pedagogy

Artze-Vega, Isis, et al. “Privileging Pedagogy: Composition, Rhetoric, and Faculty Development.” College Composition and Communication 65:1 (September 2013): 162-184.

This article, written by seven scholars who work in the “border” between comp/rhet and faculty development, demonstrates the connections between comp/rhet scholarship and faculty development work and argues for more collaboration between these two fields. The authors define faculty development as a “transdisciplinary site,” (166) list the ways comp/rhet theory and work prepares scholars for faculty development work, explain how faculty development research has informed their own teaching and scholarship, and argue for greater emphasis on faculty development theory and training in comp/rhet graduate programs. Their article includes an annotated bibliography for faculty development scholarship.

The essay makes a case for the political importance of comp/rhet scholars taking on faculty development roles: these administrative positions give comp/rhet scholars the opportunity to affect change on the institution and influence higher education in directions that could privilege teaching and learning.

Notable Notes

How comp/rhet scholarship and training prepares people to take on faculty development positions:

  • “established focus on pedagogy and the trend toward preparation for administrative duties” (166)
  • valuing of teaching and learning
  • insights into how students learn that can be applied across contexts and disciplines
  • good writers/rhetoricians, can prepare professional reports, materials, etc
  • understand that all learning, writing is rhetorically situated
  • interest in how people learn
  • WPA work is oriented to teaching/educating, not just managing
  • work often with instructional technology and digital media
  • familiar with networking through WAC, WID, writing centers

How faculty development scholarship can impact writing education

  • research on student motivation
  • research on student development, especially young adult/adult education
  • research on the impact of the holistic student experience on student performance in individual courses

how a faculty developer can be an “intellectual bureaucrat” (Richard E. Miller, 1998) – make change at higher institutional levels (171), opportunity to be a campus leader.

Problems with the faculty developer position – sometimes seen as an inferior scholar, funding issues (necessary to build strong relationships and connections across campus) (176-177)

Possibilities for graduate education: courses dedicated to faculty development, include faculty development as a possible career path and area of scholarly inquiry, internships in CTL (centers for teaching and learning) or other faculty development positions (training TAs, WAC and WID work, etc.)

Quotable Quotes

“Success in faculty development begins with admitting that we have more questions than answers and with accepting the challenge of continually revising our teaching and reassessing our learning” (177).

“These courses [in composition theory and pedagogy], we feel, could benefit from a closer alignment with insights developed in the field of faculty development: principles of learning from a general perspective, explicit discussion of institutional politics beyond the writing program, inclusion of models for leading and adapting to change within institutions, and broad exploration of curriculum design and assessment. Such training will prepare students to be effective participants in a wide range of institutional and department cultures as well as potentially providing them with access to an alternative (and greatly satisfying) career path” (176).

“Both groups [faculty developers and comp/rhet scholars] believe that continued professional learning is a desirable professional norm” (174).

“We [WPAs} know that teaching and learning are not the same thing, and this insight is central to faculty development work” (168).

“In order to be effective, professional development needs to be sustained not only over the course of a year but over the course of a career” (168).


December 8, 2010

Lipson and Voorheis, The Material and the Cultural as Interconnected Texts

Lipson, Carol and Molly Voorheis. “The Material and the Cultural as Interconnected Texts: Revising the Conditions for Part-Time Faculty at Syracuse University.” In Moving a Mountain. Eds. Schell and Stock. Urbana: NCTE, 2000. 107-131.

Lipson and Voorheis describe the new teaching culture established through the independent Syracuse Writing Program, focusing on the 1. mechanisms that were put into place that allowed part-time faculty to take leadership positions that included compensation; 2. the merit pay system that allowed for part-time teaching careers; and 3. the peer evaluation portfolio system of part-time teachers. They argue that the changes in the material conditions for part-time instructors go hand-in-hand with the cultural change in the program and at the university for valuing writing instruction – one does not occur before another; they happen in dialogue. Voorheis and Lipson argue that the Syracuse Writing Program was not just interested in changing the material conditions of its instructors; rather, the director (Phelps) worked with the members of the Program to radically shift the culture of the Writing Program and the university to one that visibly valued writing pedagogy, scholarship, and administration.

Notes and Quotes

Written 15 years after the first moves towards making the Syracuse Writing Program – after the “honeymoon” period.

The Writing Program (through the leadership of Phelps) used innovative, opportunistic ways to provide money for leadership and professional development activities, finding flexibility through packing sections to capacity and using extra ones, that were budgeted for, as release or discretionary sections (these were reigned in with the Syracuse University campus-wide budget cuts.)

In addition to working on part-time instructor working conditions in the Writing Program, there has been work towards opening up opportunties campus-wide for part-time instructors (can propose for funding, representation on the University Senate)

have not been able to create full-time instructor positions because of lawsuit potential: university faculty handbook says anyone who has taught for 6 years get tenure unless they are officially denied tenure.

“The merit awards helped established the basic values of the new teaching culture” (114).

created a 4-tier merit pay plan in the 1989-1990 school year: allowed for a sequence of advancement, identify those activities that were worthy of merit reward (115)

Introducing merit pay does create a tension: there are some who believe that all should be treated equally and others who think that those who contribute differently should be compensated differently.

Problems of the tiered merit pay plan: 1. the tiers were supposed to lead to full-time positions, which never materialized, so now they are dead-ends. 2. it takes a long time to progress, so beginning teachers are still not paid very well; 3. the merit pay increases cut into the yearly across-the-board raises, esp. those at the top of the pool – “The problem is inherent in a process bounded by a fixed salary pool that must accommodate both annual raises and merit tier upgrades” (118).

A system based on merit pay depends on evaluation (the TEC, put into place in spring 1990). This is expensive. It was redesigned years later to be sort of like tenure: once a part-time instructor passes through a certain level, they do not have to be evaluated, and the TEC does no longer include full-time faculty or adminstrative members. This new plan creates a new category of PWI: veteran intstructor, attainable after teaching in the Program for 5 years.

“The force of the new teaching culture was to emphasize the professional status of part-time faculty, and to underline their value to the program and to the profession.”

problem with coordinating groups: some of the instructors who taught in the old program saw it as top-down supervision and monitoring, not independence and professional (121-122). The structure of the coordinating groups changed to meet these concerns and needs of instructors, Program.

Suspicion: “While the program identiied these sites as generative places for the creation of a new culture, the part-time faculty viewed them through lenses ground in the old teaching culture – or in similar hierarchical environments” (121).

The teaching culture’s drawbacks are also its strenghs: it is a teaching culture (threatened by the new PhD program, which introduces a different cultural ethos); 2. it is resistant to change; 3. it relies on part-time – not full-time – positions.

peer control in evaluation

attached is the first and revised merit pay plan for PWIs

December 2, 2010

Merrill, Farrell, et al, Symposium on the 1991 Progress Report from the CCCC Committee on Professional Standards

Merrill, Robert, Thomas J. Farrell, et al. “Symposium on the ‘1991 Progress Report from the CCCC Committee on Professional Standards.’”  College Composition and Communication 43.2 (1992): 154-175. Print.

These five articles form a symposium to discuss the publication of the 1991 Progress Report from the CCCC Committee on Professional Standards, which was published in CCC in May 1992. I’m going to briefly summarize each one.

Robert Merrill, “Against the ‘Statement'”
Merrill, a full-time professor and chair, argues against the Statement because of the implications and consequences of its recommendations. Universities could never afford hiring tenure-track professors to cover all the sections of composition that they teach, and even if they did, tenure-track professors would no longer be able to offer upper-division courses because their loads would be filled up with composition. Tenure-track literature professors are not trained to teach composition or hired to teach composition. Merrill argues that lecturers and instructors do a better job of teaching composition than , tenure-track faculty, and he would support tenuring them if they continued teaching their loads of composition. Instead of trying to get rid of the two-tiered system, he argues for making “the two tiers fit closer together” by improving the working conditions of writing specialists in English departments (158).

Thomas J. Farrell, “The Wyoming Resolution, Higher Wizardry, and the Importance of Writing Instruction.”
Farrell, an associate professor, argues that teachers and professors of composition and rhetoric need to be aware of their own rhetoric and use it more effectively in order to improve the status of the teachers of writing at the academy. He points out what the Progress Report is missing – a condemnation of the expensive growth in non-teaching managerial administrators at the academy, an argument of the value of good writing instruction for students to be successful in the workplace, which depends on deliberative rhetoric, and the intellectual value of learning rhetoric in order to be adaptable to different audiences and purposes.

Eileen E. Schell, “Teaching Under Unusual Conditions: Graduate Teaching Assistants and the CCCC’s ‘Progress Report'”
Schell, a graduate student at the time of writing this, argues that the Progress Report does not “fully address the complexities of the GTA’s position” (165). The title of the graduate teaching assistant is a misnomer, Schell argues, as the GTA in composition is often a full-fledged teacher but treated as a less-than-professional. GTAs also have a double work burden: being graduate students and university teachers.

Valerie Balester, “Revising the ‘Statement’: On the Work of Writing Centers”
Balester, an assistant professor, argues that the Statement does not address the unique needs of instructors and non-tenure-track administrators who work in writing centers and contends that the Statement sees writing centers as centers of service instead of locations where writing theory and pedagogy is dynamicly enacted.

Chris M. Anson and Greta Gaard, “Acting on the ‘Statement’: The All-Campus Model of Reform”
Anson, an associate professor, and Gaard, an assistnat professor, argue that in order to carry out the reforms included in the Statement, the field should not rely on individual actions of teachers and administrators alone nor on the broader moves of CCCC (as argued by James Sledd) but instead pursue local changes within institutions by collaborating between administrators, faculty, and instructors. They use their campus-wide retreats and workshops at the University of Minnestota in 1989 and 1991 as an example of this kind of reform.

Notes and Quotes

November 19, 2010

Phelps, Mobilizing Human Resources

Phelps, Louise Wetherbee. “Mobilizing Human Resources.” In Administrative Problem-Solving for Writing Programs and Writing Centers: Scenarios in Effective Program Management. Ed. Linda Myers-Breslin. Urbana: NCTE, 1999. 73-96. Print.

Phelps gives a case study of “Cicero University,” a university that is at the same time shrinking its enrollment by 20% and developing a new writing program. She points out that the most glaring resource problem might seem to be financial, but in fact, the biggest challenge that this WPA faces is one of human resources – the WPA must tap into the talents and potential of the instructors and TAs of the program to pull off a revision of the curriculum. She argues that the part-time faculty instructors who worked in the program before are the WPA’s faculty – they are the ones that will either buy in or buy out of the program. The WPA in this position must work to create out of this “disparate group of people” a “community of teachers with the skills and commitment to plan the changes, adapt to them, and work together to successfully implement new goals” (83). She argues that this WPA challenge can be approached with three tasks: 1. create intellectual capital and make it accessible (the program’s knowledge base and practical expertise as represented by all members.) 2. create social capital (a social network of commmuniation and trust); 3. reorganize work roles and work processes to fit a new instructional plan and 4. determine how to fund these solutions.

Notes and Quotes

“Human resources in a literal sense may refer to the number of personnel lines or dollars you have on budget, the types of employees, or the person hours you can tap for some task. But more fundamentally they are the talents and human potential represented among people who work for or with the program. Like any resource, they can be cultivated, expanded, and deployed effeciently and ethically; or they can be squandered, misdirected, underestimated, or diminshed. Human capital is a more crucial resource than dollars, technology, or even time. By investing energy, pride, and commitment in their work, people provide the knowledge, imagination, motivation, and skill without which the program cannot use other types of resources effectively, or at all” (82).

You can’t just replace the whole corps of part-time instructors. “They are your faculty” (83) They have varing backgrounds, but you must cultivate them into a teaching community, one that proposes, implements changes. That’s your job as a leader – not to impose some theory but to allow them to build it.

Argues that you can’t just come up with a plan for yourself and then ask for the money. Program building is a dynamic process and an effective WPA has to seek out synergies.

1990s was a time of change in higher ed – change brought on by troubled economic times, shifting demographi

cs, changing technologies, weak economy, shrinking pool of undergraduate students, move to making “student centered” universities, emphasis on interdiciplinary learning and cooperation between units

build intellectual capital through professional development (87) that involves and serves everyone in the program. List of professional development options on pg 88

opportunity costs of offering professional development to different constituencies (TAs, PhDs in comp/rhet)

the importance of being transparent about information and ideas in the program

November 16, 2010

Maid, More than a Room of Our Own

Maid, Barry M. “More Than a Room of Our Own: Building an Independent Department of Writing.” The Writing Program Administrator’s Handbook: A Guide to Reflective Institutional Change and Practice. Ed. Stuart C. Brown, Theresa Enos, and Catherine Chaput. Lawrence Erlbaum, 2002. 453-466. Print.

Maid explains the considerations a WPA must think about when creating an independent writing program or department. He addresses institutional, faculty, and budget issues in creating a stand-alone program. He argues that WPA must always be aware of how their institutional context both constrains them and gives them opportunities, urging WPAs creating stand-alone programs to tap into their institution’s missions, which they could use in an argument for how an independent program could better serve the institution’s mission.

Notes and Quotes

“Far too many faculty in English Departments think that specializing in rhetoric and composition means specializing in First Year students” (460).

“What we can say, I think, is that minimum requirements for teaching FYC be training in rhetoric and composition and continuing professional development” (458).

cites Katherine Adams A History of Professional Instruction in American Colleges (stand-alone programs started from the turn of the century.)

faculty issues: reconstitute what service is, all faculty do administration, rewrite tenure guidelines (like Syracuse did)

institutional issues: what’s in the writing program (WAC, FYC, writing center, other), create and offer upper division courses to extend composition beyond the identity of first-year composition, think about where you place it and name it. Argues for using rhetoric.

budget issue – tap into student service fees for writing center; faculty development for WAC. Don’t build a program on one-time grants.

November 11, 2010

Anson, Who Wants Composition

Anson, Chris. “Who Wants Composition: Reflections on the Rise and Fall of an Independent Program.” In A Field of Dreams: Independent Writing Programs and the Future of Composition Studies. Ed. Peggy O’Neill, Angela Crow, and Larry W. Burton. Logan: Utah State UP, 2002. 153-169. Print.

Anson describes the history of the stand-alone Program in Composition and Communication at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, which was created in the early 1980s, and explains how, because of struggles and moves for power and money within the English Department and university structure, that program was suddenly re-absorbed by the English Department in the summer of 1996 (who then removed Anson from the director’s position.) The Program had no major and had no tenure lines; the faculty and director of the Program had tenure lines in other departments. Anson argues that the implementation of a Responsibility Center Management (RCM) budget system at the university gave the English Department incentive to take back the Program in Composition because the Program’s large number of student tuition dollars and low teaching costs gave them a favorable budget, while the English Department’s low number of students and high teaching costs put them in a precarious situation.

Notes and Quotes

A WPA’s job can no longer be seen as “a hobby, to be set aside whenever the stacks of nineteenth-century literary criticism or the latest PMLA beckon. Composition is embracing new, burgeoning areas strongly connected to learning and literacy: innovations in technology, service learning, and multifaceted forms of assessment; advances in faculty development, such as reflective practice and the scholarship of teaching; analyses of increasingly diverse writing communities; college/high school articulation. To be a WPA means to be passionate and devote time to these connected areas” (166-167).

“In spite of the politics nad hierarchies in which we work as administrators of writing programs, it is the human moments, the connections we make and the lives we touch and improve, the ways we live and work in and through our places in higher education, that really matter.” People, not programs (168).

November 10, 2010

Rehling, Small but Good

Rehling, Louise. “Small but Good: How a Specialized Writing Program Goes It Alone.” In A Field of Dreams: Independent Writing Programs and the Future of Composition Studies. Ed. Peggy O’Neill, Angela Crow, and Larry W. Burton. Logan: Utah State UP, 2002. 62-74. Print.

Rehling explains the history of the creation and development of an independent Technical and Professional Writing Program at San Francisco State University, which oversees a small undergraduate major and certificate but does not have responsibility for any university-wide service courses. It is an interdisciplinary program, separate from English completely, and housed in the College of Humanities. The program is largely staffed by adjunct lecturers, who are required to hold a master’s degree and have both workplace writing experience and teaching training. It was a problem to recruit these adjuncts: they are in high demand in the industry in the Bay Area and the university compensation is extremely low. Also, having practitioner-lecturers was a problem: they required lots of help from the department with their teaching: classroom observations and feedback, help designing syllabi and class activities, discussing grading strategies and standards. The administrative work of this small department is extensive, and the university has one tenure-track faculty member overseeing the program. The TPW program does not have its own budget – its budget is determined on allocations  from the dean of the College of Humanities.

Notes and Quotes

The requirements for local expert practicioners to teach the courses validates the adjunct’s position in the department and the university – much like adjuncts in business, music, engineering are valued because of their expert knowledge.

Look at this case to compare budget, adjunct roles with SU Writing Program.

March 31, 2009

Phelps, “Budget, Enrollment, and Workforce”

Phelps, Louise Wetherbee. “Budget, Enrollment, and Workforce.” Exploiting Synergies: Positioning the Writing Program for the Nineties. Planning Document. The Writing Program, Syracuse University. November 1991.

This is one of a series of eight concept papers in a planning document submitted by Phelps, as Director of the Writing Program, to the new Syracuse University chancellor (Shaw) in 1991. In it, Phelps argues that the Writing Program’s budget be reconceived: that it depends on budgeted money (not variable allocations); that it is designed based on the Program’s goals (not on the categories of the old Freshman English program); that it uses people, not sections as a baseline for deciding how much money the Program receives; and that it is administered at the university level, not in the College of Arts and Sciences (because it serves the entire population.) Phelps directly ties the goals of the Program, those goals that were stated when she came to serve as director in 1986, to how the budget is constructed and administered.

Quotable Quotes

“The Writing Program recovers an unreasonably low percentage of the profit it generates over costs.”

“Since the status quo budget (no matter how increased) is conceptually organized by the categories and distribution of our teaching in the old program, the Freshman English program continues to repress our imagination through the perpetuation of its budget structures”

Notable Notes

SU was trying to cut costs and enrollment university-wide, early 1990s

make a budget that is based on planning (in this case, the number of faculty for the future grad program), not one that is reactive and scrambles together funds from a variety of sources at the last minute

look at the functions of the writing program: both teaching undergraduate courses and working consultatively in a writing center, with professional development, evaluation, TA training, university-wide projects and initiatives – all thesse, not just the teaching, need adequate funding

February 9, 2009

McLeod, The Foreigner

McLeod, Susan H. “The Foreigner: WAC Directors as Agents of Change.” In Resituating Writing: Constructing and Administering Writing Programs. Eds. Joseph Janangelo and Kristine Hansen. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1995. 108-116.

McLeod surveys five metaphorical models for viewing the role of the WAC director, ultimately arguing that the best model is that of a change agent, a director that uses collaboration and conversation among the university-wide faculty to enact change in the college curriculum and in individual teachers’ pedagogy and teacher theories. The other four models that WAC directors often adopt – the conquerer, the diplomat, the peace corps volunteer, and the missionary – position the WAC director in a negative light, either by appearing top-down and combative, by acting like writing is the sole concern of a single department or unit (usually English), by decreasing the WAC director’s authority and effectiveness by having no budget or support, or by approaching writing instruction with a sort of moral authority, not allowing for dialogue about writing across the disciplines.

Quotable Quotes

WAC directors need “to invent their role with care as they venture into new territory”, make their “foreignness” work for them, not against them. (108)

WAC as a “quiet revolution” (look at Fulwiler) (115)

Notable Notes

Importance of securing a budget for director time release, clerical support, student support (peer tutor), and faculty workshops and follow-up for a successful writing across the curriculum program

WAC must be a faculty-owned, university-wide goal for it to be successful

Build a WAC advisory board or an all-university writing committee

Importance of an outside evaluation to get faculty support and budgetary support for a WAC program

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