Council of Writing Program Administrators
2017 Conference: Workshop, July 16-19; Institutes, July 20; Conference, July 20-23

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WPA Institutes, 2017

The WPA Institutes provide the opportunity for intensive, productive, and interactive work with experienced WPAs who can assist participants in solving the challenges of program administration.  Attendees will leave each of the following workshops with tangible work products that will benefit their programs as well as their individual careers.  This year, we are happy to offer a range of workshops that address issues for both new and veteran WPAs.

Institutes will be held Thursday, July 20, 9:00 – 4:00 at the UT Conference Center in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Institute Registration is $200.

Knocking Good Ideas Down: Overcoming Austerity and Institutional Barriers to Curricular Change and Program Building

Tim McCormack, John Jay College, CUNY,
Mark McBeth, John Jay College, CUNY,
Lisa Blankenship, Baruch College, CUNY,
Annie Del-Principe, Kingsborough Community College, CUNY

While scholarship and published research studies can offer WPAs the abstract frameworks to consider program and curricular change, this workshop affords participants the time, space, structured, peer review to pragmatically conceive, analyze, and “blueprint” their curricular ambition. In this participant-centered workshop, facilitators will first present case study examples from their own institutions where a literacy initiative, curricular re-design, or writing program project launched successfully—or not. The stories emphasize the contextual barriers that can limit or strangle a project’s potential, and how to avoid or overcome them.
Working individually and in facilitator-led groups, attendees will identify a literacy initiative or curriculum re-design at their own campus, and then work with their group to brainstorm design objectives, contextualize their project within their institution, identify institutional structures and stakeholders (both supportive and obstructionist), and prepare a first draft of a proposal or a project outline. After identifying departmental goals, institutional missions, political stakeholders, and the financial plausibility of designing curricular reform or a literacy initiative at their home institution, the participants will work collaboratively to brainstorm, draft, peer review, and revise a proposal to persuade a department, institution, or governing body to undertake and launch a curriculum re-design or program initiative. 

Uncovering Program Knowledge Using Institutional Ethnography

Michelle LaFrance, Assistant Professor, George University
Travis Grandy University of Massachusetts Amherst
Katherine Daily O’Meara, Emporia State University
Jennifer Eidum Zinchuk, Elon University
Darci Thoune University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

As the call for proposals to the 2017 CWPA conference notes, the Age of Austerity (Welch and Scott) requires that WPAs become more savvy about the materialities of their programs, taking up program review and research efforts that help them to problem solve or respond to the “entrepreneurial schemes” of our increasingly neoliberal environments (7). Institutional ethnography (IE) is a crucial response to these gaps. This workshop’s discussions and close mentoring will develop individualized protocols for uncovering the complex discursive/material realities that organize sites of writing. Participants will leave with a plan to research a problem within their program
This institute, suitable for brand new and experienced WPAs as researchers, will present the analytic heuristics at the center of work with IE. Participants will work in small groups (labor, policy, pedagogy, assessment, professional development) to discuss designing IE projects, begin or troubleshoot their own projects, and share thoughts on how IE answers to writing studies exigencies. Workshop leaders are experienced and emerging institutional ethnographers, writing program researchers, and administrators who have conducted writing studies research in a number of different institutions, programs, and circumstances.

Moving Toward Retention, Tenure, and Promotion: Effectively Planning the Intellectual Work of the WPA

Sherry Rankins-Robertson, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Aurora Matzke, Biola University
Bre Garrett, University of West Florida
Laurie A. Pinkert, University of Central Florida,

In many WPA positions, programmatic work does not comport well with retention, tenure, and promotion requirements, and is understood as a partial service fulfillment, which undercuts the knowledge, workload, and expertise necessary to sustain a program and a WPA. This workshop will help participants negotiate those exigencies.

Institutions do not always recognize the expertise required to build strong programs, which often involves implementing disciplinary knowledge in complex decision-making activities, such as hiring and mentoring faculty; updating, streamlining, and changing curricula; implementing workload policies; vetting student complaints; managing budgetary constraints; conducting programmatic assessment; and creating cross-institutional collaborations. Thus, new and early career WPAs need to create attainable, longitudinal research plans that maintain demonstrable, positive contributions toward college and university standards. They also need to communicate these plans to high-stakes individuals beyond the WPA community who may deem the work as solely service.

In this interactive workshop, participants will begin to develop a longitudinal research and development plan that aligns with their position and their institutional context. Experienced WPAs, with members of the Intellectual Work Task Force, will provide participants with foundational research; sample retention, tenure, and promotion requirements across various types of institutions and positions; and sample responses to promotion and tenure guidelines using the CWPA’s “Evaluating the Intellectual Work of Writing Administration.” Leaders will also offer individual time with participants to work through particular scenarios or respond to institutional requirements.