At the panel presentation for this year’s Council of Writing Program Administrators Conference (CWPA), former CarolinasWPA board member, Marsha Lee Baker, and fellow former board member and co-founder of CarolinasWPA, Meg Morgan, offered a comprehensive recollection of “The Lasting Work of the CarolinasWPA.” In her presentation, Meg—who now works at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte—synthesizes how and why the organization was founded.
The speech began with Meg establishing the rhetorical situation of the University of North Carolina higher education system at the time:
- There were 17 university campuses total, 5 of which were HBCUs;
- Of these campuses, enrollments ranged from 1,800 to 34,000;
- And academic emphasis varied from liberal arts and sciences to science and technology.
This institutional diversity created a call to action for better cross-college communication in regard to WPAs.
Meg’s first efforts of communication with another Carolina WPA was with Don Bushman at UNC Wilmington in 1997-8. Meg initially made the call to Don to question UNC Wilmington’s policy on first-year composition credit for incoming transfer students—a case Meg was dealing with at Charlotte. Ultimately, this lead to a realization of how productive cross-university communication could be. Meg found contacts across several UNC websites, and in March 1999, at the CWPA breakfast at CCCC’s, she met with Marsha Lee Baker of Western Carolina University to discuss uniting WPAS across all state universities in North Carolina. The exigency of such a union was clear, and by the next month, Marsha Lee—who would be another former board member and co-founder of CarolinasWPA—and Meg had scheduled a meeting for September 1999 at UNC Chapel Hill.
At that point, the two to-be co-founders had put together a list of 12 WPAs that could potentially comprise the organization, which they were calling the North Carolina WPA. They had also constructed a tentative agenda, which included discussing:
- attendance policies
- first-year writing course content
- graduate student training
- creating a regional affiliate through CWPA or CCCC, and more.
According to Meg, the first meeting to go over this agenda was full of productive discussion, shared collaboration, and getting to know these members of the North Carolina WPA community. By the end of September, Meg had distributed contact information for 12 state university writing program directors and 1 private university program director (Duke).
In March 1999, the materializing group became further united through a survey administered by Erika Lindemann that focused on UNC campuses’ employment practices. The survey provided additional evidence of the value of shared learning, and by September 2000, the second statewide meeting was held at UNC Charlotte with Tim Peeples of Elon University—another CarolinasWPA co-founder—in attendance.
Finally, in March of 2002, Marsha Lee and Meg wrote a proposal to the Council of Writing Program Administrators. The North Carolina WPA had met four times successfully by then, and had invited South Carolina universities to join/offer representation at these meetings. With formal approval, the North Carolinas WPA was made an official affiliate of the Council of Writing Program Administrators in 2003. The group was re-named the CarolinasWPA and still proves to do excellent work uniting the ideas and efforts of writing programs in both North and South Carolina through collaboration, openness, and communication.
Jordan Stanley is currently a junior at Elon University. She is studying English with concentrations in Professional Writing & Rhetoric and Creative Writing, and works both in the Elon Writing Center and as a Writing Fellow.