CAHSS Faculty Articles

Editorial: Leadership and Writing Programs



Publication Title

Academic Exchange Quarterly



Publication Date

Winter 2013


Writing specialists regularly take on leadership positions. Their job titles and descriptions vary widely. For example, some writing specialists work with composition, writing across the curriculum, and writing center programs, while others administer writing majors, fellows programs, and broad-based university writing assessments. Still others take on coordinating teaching assistants, National Writing Projects, and more. In each of these roles, writing specialists work with people to help create conditions for student writing success. The authors in this issue explore the ways in which leadership affects the success of writing programs.

In his article, Richard Bowman argues that successful and effective leaders are those who engage in productive organizational conversations. By productive, Bowman means that the conversations must be inclusive, intimate, interactive, and intentional.

Several authors write about their experiences as leaders in writing centers or writing fellows programs. For example, Liliana Naydan contends that leaders in a writing center are like community organizers who create social change. The kind of leadership that Naydan speaks of allows for the empowerment of those involved.

Another way to empower those who work with writing centers and writing fellows programs is to provide tutors with opportunities to lead. Articles by Kristina Aikens and Elizabeth Lenaghan argue that writing fellows can help each other develop leadership skills through a collaborative learning process.

Katrin Girgensohn shares the results of an empirical study that included 16 interviews with writing center directors at U.S. institutions. Her grounded theory approach reveals a stance of collaborative learning that seems to be crucial for writing center leadership.

Luke Niiler discusses how transformational leadership can play a key role in developing highly motivated writing center administrators, consultants, and clients, and Antony Ricks examines how distributed leadership and writing center pedagogy can work together to lead campus writing programs into developing and promoting rigorous, effective teaching and learning.

Two articles focus on an often-overlooked aspect of writing program leadership: the role of the graduate student who serves as a WPA. First, Anthony T. Fulton provides a critical reflection on the various identities Graduate Student Administrators assume in order to work within institutional politics, and second, Crystal Broch Colombini and Meghan A. Sweeney argue for integrating a relational leadership framework into the theorization of graduate writing program administration in order to foreground the process-based and socially-constructed nature of writing program leadership.

In their articles, Crystal L. Mueller challenges assumptions that tenure lines are best for writing center directors, and Karen Keaton Jackson shows how financially challenged writing centers can strengthen their positions within their universities by connecting all activities to the University’s goals, maximizing collaborative efforts both on and off campus, and collecting data strategically.

We hope readers will find these articles to be useful and will continue to explore ways in which leadership theory can both inform and help us better understand our work as writing administrators.





Peer Reviewed

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