A key principle of faculty development is, “Start with the willing.” The remarkable thing about the OSU faculty during my 26 years as WIC director is that so many of you have been willing: willing to take on the challenge of teaching majors to write in your discipline, willing to invest your time in the WIC faculty seminar, willing to do the hard work of responding to student writing, and willing to teach students what critical thinking looks like in your field. For all of these things and more, I thank you.
Over the years, you have generously shared your questions, your assignments and rubrics, your creative approaches to teaching writing with me and with your colleagues. I am especially grateful for all I have learned from you about writing in the discipline. That knowledge inspired me, in 2001, to begin offering WR 599, Workshop for Thesis and Dissertation Writers Across the University, which has been one of the great teaching joys of my life.
In 2004, a philosophy professor from Tajikistan, Abdurahim Juraev, came to OSU on a Fulbright to study with me. I asked him why me? He said because I teach critical thinking through writing. “The future of my country depends on our students’ learning critical thinking, which was never allowed earlier under the Soviet Union,” he explained. It is just as essential for our own students to learn critical thinking and to learn that the future of our country may also depend on it. Dr. Juraev has gone on to teach WIC approaches to critical thinking to more than 300 university faculty across Central Asia. When someone asked my vision for the future of the Baccalaureate Core, my vision is that every teacher of a Bacc Core course will clearly articulate what constitutes critical thinking in their discipline and give students not only a definition but also an abundance of practice thinking critically through writing and other modes, and meta-cognitively KNOWING that they are thinking critically.
As I look toward my retirement on January 1, 2020, my final thanks to the WIC GTA, the supremely kind and efficient Marisa Yerace, the lively WIC interns Regan Breeden, Matthew Fuller, and Alex Werndli, the amazingly organized and technologically adept Caryn Stoess, my kind and wise supervisor Alix Gitelman, and of course to all of you, the WIC faculty and supporters across the curriculum. My OSU career traversing the disciplines has been, largely because of all of you, a dream job. Thank you. Keep on writing.
As part of our WIC 25th Anniversary Celebration, we surveyed more than 200 past winners of the WIC Culture of Writing Awards in the disciplines. Nearly 100 of these OSU graduates responded, answering questions about their careers, their workplace and personal writing, and how well prepared they felt as writers. In an open-ended question, many wrote about their gratitude for what they learned in WIC courses and for having their writing recognized through the Culture of Writing award. This is what some of the grads told us:
“I was truly honored to be recognized with my department’s WIC award and am happy to be counted among the winners, past and future.” (Liberal Arts)
“Thank you, OSU, for helping me to become a published science writer! OSU was the best foundation I could have hoped for, and from that foundation I have been able to put together a slightly odd and highly satisfying career, spreading the joy of birds and birding to a wide audience.” (Ag Sciences)
“Writing is honestly a joy. I, among others, have always found a freedom of expression in writing. I am so glad that this program continues to honor writing – thank you!” (Business)
“WIC is as important as STEM related course work in engineering. Most students will spend a relatively small portion of their career performing technical calculations. They will spend a significantly larger portion of their career communicating with peers or reviewing/revising the work of employees they supervise.” (Engineering)
“Some of the best writers at our company went to OSU. The WIC program was instrumental to their success, whether they acknowledge it or not.” (Engineering)
“Thank you for your support. The Culture of Writing Award was the first award I received during my academic career. It’s an accomplishment with significant positive impacts on young scholars during a vital stage of their progressive young careers.” (Science)
“It was one of my biggest honors at OSU to receive this award, and it really gave me the confidence to proudly display my writing skills and highlight them as one of my biggest strengths.” (Public Health and Human Sciences)
“….The encouragement from my professors truly helped me reframe how I saw myself and my ideas. When Dr. Natchee Barnd presented me with the WIC award, I actually cried because, still, in my senior year, I wasn’t terribly confident in my writing, and I think part of me thought I was undeserving…The award spoke far more to my skills than I realized, and it validated all my hard work…To every professor at OSU, your words of encouragement, validation, and affirmation go such a long way.” (Liberal Arts)
More of these interesting responses in the fall.
Thank you to each WIC teacher who nominated a student for a Culture of Writing Award in your discipline this year. See the list of this year’s winners and their nominating faculty member here. If you are wishing you had nominated someone, remember next year.
I also want to recognize and thank the people who made the 25th celebration of WIC possible. First, thanks to Vice Provost Alix Gitelman and the Division of Undergraduate Education, who approved funding for the events. Second, thanks to my amazing WIC team, who planned and made the event happen, and whose ideas shaped the day: Executive Assistant Caryn Stoess, GTAs Lindsay Schwehr and Ruth Sylvester, and intern Marisa Yerace. Marisa planned the outstanding afternoon mini-conference. Thank you. Thanks also to the WIC faculty who participated in the afternoon mini-conference, and to my friend and WAC colleague, Terry Zawacki, who flew here from Virginia to be our keynoter.
I will lead my last WIC Faculty Seminar in the fall, as I am retiring January 1, 2020. Please encourage WIC faculty who have not had the seminar to ask their chair/head/director to email a nomination to me. I look forward to another great group of faculty in the fall. We will me meeting on Thursdays, 3 to 5, rather than Wednesdays, due to space constraints.
Finally, thanks to the WIC team for a rewarding year despite many challenges. To WIC GTA fall and winter Lindsay Schwehr, thank you for your endless good cheer and your thoroughness in review of WIC courses. To Ruth Sylvester, who stepped in as WIC GTA when Lindsay took health leave, thank you for devoting two years to interning and working to improve the program and strengthen its research-based foundation. All the best to Ruth as she enters a PhD program in Rhetoric and Composition at U. of Nevada Reno. Thanks to intern Marisa Yerace, especially for taking responsibility for the 25th celebration mini-conference. Marisa will be the WIC GTA next year. Finally, thanks to Caryn Stoess, who has kept all things WIC moving in the right direction this year, even while taking on a new position as Interim Operations Manager for Academic Programs and Assessment. I am deeply grateful, Caryn.