Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

University writing program is ready for full launch

With 19 new faculty lecturers, a new space and new curriculum, the University Writing Program is raring to go this fall.

According to program Director and English Professor Doug Hesse, the writing program will consist of three major parts: a Writing and Research Center in Penrose Library, writing courses for first-year students, and writing-intensive core and upper-division courses to be implemented across the undergraduate curriculum. 

The program is getting under way after four years of planning by the Marsico Initiative writing cell. The overriding goal of the program is to keep students focused on writing from the beginning through the end of their time at DU. 

George Potts, interim dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, says the program will set out to change students’ perception “that writing is something taught in their first-year writing sequence, rather than having it taught throughout their career.” 

Russian literatures and languages Associate Professor Luc Beaudoin, chair of the Marsico Initiative steering committee and coordinator of the writing cell, says DU’s program was developed after consulting with writing directors at Harvard, Stanford and the University of Arkansas. 

Over years of planning and piloting different courses, what took shape is a multifaceted program that has attracted promising writing and rhetoric faculty. Potts says these lecturers are coming to DU for the opportunity to teach classes with no more than 15 students, work on new curricula and research, and work with Hesse. As chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, the nation’s largest organization of writing professors, Hesse is recognized as a national leader in writing education. 

Hesse says he hopes the program will quickly establish a national reputation for DU as a “hotbed of writing.” 

And DU has committed to giving him the support to do it. Beaudoin says he doesn’t know of another program that has created this many new faculty positions at one time. 
“No other program is putting the resources into this that we are,” Potts says. 

In addition to the space allocation in Penrose and the Writing Program faculty and staff, 24 tenure-line faculty positions were added to existing arts and sciences departments to allow for the first-year seminar courses and the writing-intensive core courses. 

To make room for the new Writing and Research Center, the microfiche and catalogs, once near the circulation desk in Penrose, have been moved. The center includes faculty offices, a seminar room and space for consultations. Hesse says the center will be more than a “remedial fix-it shop.” It will be a resource to students and faculty across campus, offer a variety of workshops and conduct research on DU student writing. 

The first-year writing sequence has been transformed from three first-year English courses—which were taught by adjunct faculty and teaching assistants—to one first-year seminar taught by an appointed faculty member and two intensive writing courses taught by the new writing lecturers. 

During fall quarter, the writing lecturers will develop first-year writing curricula and will help other faculty members teach writing effectively. First-year students will no longer be required to take a course on writing about literature. Instead, Hesse says, students will learn to write in a range of academic disciplines, thus better preparing them for their chosen career. 

‘Throughout the year, the Writing Program faculty, in conjunction with the Core Curriculum Committee, will be working closely with other faculty members across the arts and sciences to develop next year’s writing-intensive core courses.  

This article originally appeared in The Source, September 2006.

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