U receives grant for writing program

The nearly $1 million grant from the Bush Foundation will foster writing enrichment.

by Alex Robinson

The University received a nearly $1 million grant for the next three years from the Bush Foundation last week. The grant will fund a Writing Enriched Curriculum program to ensure all students have writing-enriched courses at the University.

The University created the WEC program last semester, and it will be put into action next fall.

Program Director Pamela Flash said the money received from the grant will be used to hire more teaching assistants and buy faculty time.

During the next three years, Flash said she intends to go to 22 different departments and buy out one class from individual professors. That class will be devoted to integrating writing into the curriculum, she said.

Grant money will also fund research and gather feedback from students and professors, said associate professor Lee-Ann Breuch who will be assisting Flash in the project.

“The money will be used for research assistance and for me and Pamela to do this work,” Breuch said.

Flash sent a proposal earlier this year to the Bush Foundation, outlining the WEC program and its future goals.

According to the grant proposal, “When fully implemented, the proposed program will ensure that students in at least 20 academic units will follow their first-year writing courses with a series of well-sequenced and effectively taught writing-enriched courses within their majors.”

Other colleges are also trying to improve their writing programs, but the University’s program was unique, said Duane Roen an Arizona State University writing instructor who looked at the grant proposal with the Bush Foundation.

“I was impressed with the new department of writing studies that is being formed,” Roen said. “I think that given the people I see being brought together in that department, it is one of the most exciting movements in writing studies in the United States.”

Bush Foundation Senior Program Officer John Archabal said the proposal stood out because it focused on improving teaching and not just student writing.

“They produced a very good proposal that talks about trying to improve teaching of writing, and there’s a linkage between thinking and writing,” Archabal said.

Department of Writing Chairwoman Laura Gurak was also excited about the project.

“We’re really going to create what we hope to be known as the ‘Minnesota model,’ which is that instead of just checking the box for your four courses, writing should be woven in through your whole curriculum,” she said.