The WPA web page: http://wpacouncil.org/taxonomy/term/1550
Well, this particular topic is interesting to me because of all of the issues that come up. Being tenured is a big deal (I'll talk about it in class), and some institutions treat work like writing program administration (what a WPA does) as more like service--so you do it, but don't get credit for it. Also, I WAS an untenured WPA. And it really turned out pretty well for me. I got tenure (because at BSU doing a good job in a quasi-admin job means something--service generally means something here). Also, it opened up a lot of professional doors for me. On the down-side, I did not publish as much as I would have liked and so now it would be difficult for me to move to a different school if I wanted to. These are all points that get mentioned in the discussion of whether or not Pontefacto should take the job.
We see a lot here--stuff about the brief history of Rhet/Comp. Stuff about Rhet/Comp in English departments. Stuff about working in higher ed generally--and how it looks very different in different places (an R1 versus a teaching institution like BSU with a 4/4 load). Stuff about tenure. Stuff about labor issues. How is this about teaching writing? No, seriously, I'm asking you, class, how is this about teaching writing?
Other things got talked about: how much reading is it OK to assign. I thought you guys might be more interested in that discussion. I am a big advocate of teaching reading and not just assigning reading if first year writing. Also: job postings, calls for papers (presentations and publications), help with research surveys.
Here is the original post that started the conversation. . .
First time posting, so forgive me for barging into the discussion-- but I was hoping I could consult everyone here with a question concerning the specifics of reasonable release time for modest WPA responsibilities. I've been offered a jWPA/assistant professor position at a small liberal-arts college (enrolls ~500 students per year) with a two-course first-year writing sequence with ~25 sections per semester (mostly taught by adjuncts). It's a new position-- previously the WPA was carried out ad-hoc by chairs of English, the last of whom was recently denied tenure. The administrators seem vaguely dissatisfied with the current state of the program (which is currently entirely standardized, taught from a cobbled-together master syllabus) and are looking for someone to rationalize both the curriculum and the assessment.
Here's the rub: they are very, very firm that they can offer only one course release in connection with this position, which given the existing 4:4 load brings the teaching responsibility to 3:4. I believe I would be well qualified to undertake the duties, but I've read a lot of frightening stuff about the terrible prospects for jWPAs who end up being undersupported with release time. I have young children, so an insane 24/7 workload will not be a possibility either in the short or long term. But the position is culturally and geographically very attractive, so I would like to undertake it if it has a chance of being doable.
My question, then: for those of you with direct experience in the day-to-day business of WPA, does this sound suicidal, in career terms? Would I be well-advised to pass it up, even in the absence of immediate alternatives?