Writing Program Administration

A central part of my work at UMaine is my role as the Director of College Composition.  I supervise an average of 40 or so sections of English 101, Translingual English 101, and English 100/106 each semester.  These sections are taught by a mix of full-time instructors, adjunct instructors, and teaching assistants.  We usually have between 30-35 instructors working with us each semester.

That’s the broader context within which my administrative work happens.  But writing program administration is more than just a role I have on campus: it’s also a central theme of my research agenda, and an important part of my identity as a scholar.

I am particularly interested in the development of writing instruction at UMaine historically.  UMaine has a rich history of writing instruction that stretches back to the early days of Writing Studies, and a deep investigation of that history can provide new insights into the development of the field and the very notion of a writing program administrator.  At the core of this research strand is an ongoing oral and documentary history project that draws on interviews with writing instructors and administrators in the university (both current and former) and surviving papers from various writing instruction activities stretching back to the 1950s and, in some cases, to the 1890s.

In addition to the history of writing instruction at UMaine, I have also begun examining my own decisions as a WPA through a range of methodological approaches: how am I building an equitable and sustainable writing program, and how can I do it better?  How can I make the mechanisms of the program transparent to students, teachers, and other stakeholders?  My work on this has resulted in chapters for edited collections and speak not only to the work going on at UMaine (the promotion of which is part of my task as a WPA) but to the contributions that UMaine’s operation can make to the field.

In the other pages of this section, I detail the principles that guide my administrative choices, the particulars of my WPA research agenda, the initiatives that I’m attending to at UMaine, and the publication / presentation venues that I’ve taken up to develop this agenda.