Here is a sample overview of a day's worth (or so) of the Writing Program Administrators Listserv. Even though it was a weekend, my colleagues in the field of Rhetoric and Composition were very busy posting to the list. The hot topic was in relation to a post by a newish faculty member wondering if she should take a WPA job while untenured. I can imagine what many of you thought about as you read this: What is a WPA? What's the big deal about tenure? And how is it possible this many people have this many different ideas about whether or not this woman should take the job?
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.
This blog is a reactionary overview of the daily posts to the Writing Program Administrator's listserv. One day; one blogger; lots of reactions.