History of CarolinasWPA

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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.

Elon University QEP


Elon University has made a commitment to “make writing a signature experience of every Elon student’s education” by establishing their community-wide QEP. In its implementation stage, it is called the Writing Excellence Initiative (WEI). Elon’s Director of Writing Across the University, Dr. Paula Rosinski, describes the QEP as an institution-wide project geared toward faculty, staff, and students.

“Our task is inclusive: to enhance the teaching and learning of all academic, professional and co-curricular writing of all students, faculty and staff,” says Dr. Rosinski.

Although the objectives of the Writing Excellence Initiative are overarching, the approach intentionally sets broad goals for departments and does not prescribe how those goals can be met. Elon acknowledges that each department, discipline, and program is unique and has its own disciplinary practice, so honoring those experts and their decisions allows infinite flexibility.

That being said, the WEI focuses on enhancing three different categories of writing: writing to learn, writing in a discipline/profession, and writing as a citizen. It is the hope of the university that the mastery of these three facets of writing will prepare students—undergraduate and graduate—to be excellent writers. According to the Writing Excellence Initiative, writing to learn will prepare Elon students to use writing to analyze information, understand new content, and generate knowledge. Writing in a discipline/profession, then, focuses on using writing to develop and communicate ideas effectively to readers within the context of his or her field of study, as well as outside of school. Finally, writing as a citizen will prepare Elon graduates to “communicate effectively with other members of his or her communities on issues of local, regional, or global significance.”

This preparation process begins in Elon’s Writing Center and through the Writing Across the University Program (WAU). With expanded hours, a new central location on the first floor of Belk Library, and opened satellite locations, the Writing Center has a growing presence on Elon’s campus. Similarly, WAU, though in its early stages, is making improvements throughout Elon’s academic departments, the Core Curriculum, and the Division of Student Life. The WAU currently supports faculty development in the best practices of writing pedagogy through a Summer Writing Institute, Pedagogy Enhancement Grants, Writing Research Grants, Writing Center Fellows, Anonymous Assignment Feedback from Writing Center Consultants, and group, department, program, and individual consultations.

“The process of working through the WEI means that faculty are devoting time to discussing with each other the role of writing in their disciplines, writing outcomes for their disciplines, writing pedagogies to pilot, [and] their curricula maps,” says Dr. Rosinski. This campus-encompassing approach has proved to result in one of the most powerful benefits: the conversations about writing that are taking place among teaching faculty/staff and between teachers and students. As Dr. Rosinski explains “These are conversations that are happening not only in faculty development workshops, but in small group conversations among colleagues, in department meetings, in casual conversation in cafes, in classrooms.”

The facilitation of these conversations is also aided by one of the most unique facets of Elon’s WEI: the Writing Fellows program. Though still in its pilot stage, the ultimate goal of the program is to assign fellows to work with Elon professors across all disciplines in order to communicate standards for writing pedagogy, shape writing-intensive assignments, and work with students one-on-one. That this program has both academic and professional benefits, and aids both students and professors, makes it truly unique to Elon.

What is also unique about Elon’s WEI is that it’s not just about academic writing in the majors, but about student life and the general education classes, too. The Core Curriculum contributes to the WEI by “refin(ing) its courses to provide additional instruction and support for steadily developing undergraduate students’ abilities to write as citizens” (elon.edu).

Although the Writing Excellence Initiative is still in its implementation process, the attitude toward enhancing writing on the Elon campus has already become one of willingness and appreciation. “The community as a whole is very invested in our Writing Excellence Initiative,” says Paula. “Which means that I get to spend my time and energy on working with faculty and staff to develop appropriate writing outcomes and engaging writing assignments, prompts and situations.”


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.

East Carolina University QEP: Student Enhancement


By Jordan Stanley

As universities across the Carolinas begin and continue to nourish writing and English programs across their curriculums, the role of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) becomes an essential player in the development of these schools. QEPs typically involve a multi-faceted proposal for how to improve particular aspects of student learning in a university through specific strategies that aim to achieve an overarching goal. In the case of East Carolina University (ECU), this goal is to “integrate, align, and reinforce writing instruction for students” throughout their entire educational experience. In this post, I will focus on how ECU’s QEP is geared toward and advances students in particular.

The title of the ECU’s QEP, “Write Where You Belong,” is representative of the initiative’s focus on making writing pedagogy more inclusive and applicable to all disciplines—not just English. In an interview with Dr. Wendy Sharer—the QEP Director at ECU and past President of CarolinasWPA—she said that, “Perhaps the unique thing about ECU’s QEP is that we’re mixing several things.”

One major facet of the QEP is the ENGL 2201: Writing About the Disciplines QEP curriculum initiative. This initiative is a synthesis of the collaboration with two other universities. Appalachian State University faculty shared their plan to create a “vertical curriculum,” in which students take a writing-intensive course each year of their undergraduate degree program. George Mason University, in turn, shared the value of their junior year discipline-themed composition courses, such as writing in the social or natural sciences. Together, ECU blended these two ideas to create ENGL 2201, which is to be taken in the sophomore year and offers several different sections of the course that are themed around various disciplines, from health sciences to education. The goal of this program, it seems, is to both ensure the continuity of student writing development and to encourage expanding this development across disciplines.

The ECU QEP reinforces this continuous student development through the implementation of the University Writing Portfolio (UWPort). As first-year students, ECU undergraduates are required to take the ENGL 1100 composition class, where they will create an electronic UWPort. This will serve as a foundation for each time a student takes a course with the university’s “Writing Intensive” (WI) designation. Students will be able to build, their UWPort, uploading writing samples with accompanying “writing self-analysis,” which describes the student’s writing process and explains/assesses the choices they made throughout their composition.

What separates ECU’s UWPort from other university’s electronic portfolios is that, because many ECU students take at least one WI course per year, the end product will have great longitudinal value. “This process is unique in that is makes metacognitive writing (writing in which a writer studies and evaluates his or her own writing) a practice that students engage in across their time at ECU,” says Dr. Sharer. “A good deal of research suggests that metacognition is critical to learning and applying what one has learned to new contexts, so we hope that students will, by the end of their undergraduate degree programs, students will be better able to assess and hence improve their own writing.”

So far, ECU is seeing several direct benefits from the QEP, one of which being the construction and staffing of an actual Writing Center space. The use of this Writing Center has doubled from 2,500 to 5,000 appointments per academic year since before the QEP. This seems to serve as a manifestation of increasing writing awareness in the student body across ECU’s campus. An upcoming post will examine how faculty, too, are benefitting from ECU’s QEP.

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.

East Carolina University QEP: Faculty Participation


By Jordan Stanley

As beneficial as Quality Enhancement Plans (QEPs) are for the students of a university, they are comparably advantageous for the faculty. In the case of East Carolina University, it is the institution’s goal that the QEP serves as “an opportunity to strengthen the educational experiences of ECU students.” This goal is coming to fruition via the cooperation and integration of faculty into the initiative. In the ECU QEP, faculty are comprehended as valuable assets to the student writing experience across all disciplines—assets that, under the new programs, are essential in working toward creating a uniform standard of writing that will unify the campus under a cohesive understanding for improvement.

One of the main features of East Carolina’s QEP that is geared toward faculty is the Writing Liaisons program. Writing Liaisons are faculty members from undergraduate programs across the campus who facilitate communication between their academic programs and the University Writing and Writing Foundations programs. This involves monthly meetings with QEP leadership, including QEP Director Dr. Sharer, where Liaisons are able to share updates and concerns about the implementation of QEP initiatives. This month, several instructors of ENGL2201 will share their syllabi with the Writing Liaisons so that the Liaisons can (1) gain a better understanding of what students are learning in the course, and (2) bring this information back to their programs so faculty in writing intensive classes across the disciplines can work off of what students know from ENG2201.

The goal of the Writing Liaisons is to ensure that faculty collaborate on ways to ensure that students receive consistent information on writing expectations and strategies. In the previous post on ECU’s QEP, the idea of a “vertical curriculum” was introduced, where students are required to take a writing intensive course for each year of their undergraduate education. “This kind of sharing of information across diverse degree programs at the university is critical if the ‘vertical curriculum’ is going to be most beneficial to students,” said Dr. Sharer of the Liaisons.

The university’s required writing portfolios were also highlighted in the previous post on ECU’s QEP as a unique feature to the initiative. These portfolios, or UWPorts, are not only an essential part to the students’ vertical learning, but also a staple of faculty involvement in the QEP. Although the UWPorts are geared toward student improvement, the QEP addresses that in order for consistent writing to be affective for students, the faculty, too, be able to assess this writing consistently. To achieve this cohesion, Section X of the ECU QEP—which may be found on the East Carolina website—outlines how faculty should approach and evaluate the UWPorts. A staple of Section X reads: “Portfolios can benefit instructors and improve instruction. Seeing students’ responses to course assignments and their perceptions of their own learning can suggest ways that faculty might improve assignments and pedagogy.”

So far, the QEP has contributed noticeably to the cohesiveness of writing pedagogies around the ECU campus. QEP leadership feels that there is a far greater awareness across the university of what students learn in composition courses and how faculty should build on this, and the Writing Liaisons have been integral to this. QEP Director Dr. Sharer said of faculty, “that they are much more aware of what they are looking for in student writing and are much more aware of how to design assignments and writing activities to help students success as writers.”

For how the ECU QEP further focuses on faculty enhancement, please read here.


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.

Board Member Profile: Robin Snead



North Carolina State Univeristy; PhD.

Dr. Robin Snead currently serves as an At-Large CarolinasWPA board member in North Carolina. New to the organization, Robin says that given the current attitudes toward higher education, she hope to have CarolinasWPA advocate more publically for the importance of the group’s work. “What I most appreciate about the CarolinasWPA is the openness and collegiality I have found as a member, and I would like to see our reach extended to individuals from colleges and universities that are not currently represented,” says Robin.


Outside of CarolinasWPA, Robin works as a lecturer at the University of North Carolina, Pembroke. She is also conducting research on a project centered on multimodal composition, looking beyond first-year composition courses and genres of disciplinary writing, to the less-explored multimodality across academic disciplines. Robin and three of her colleagues have an article forthcoming in Across the Disciplines that reports and comments on survey results they’ve gathered on this topic. Robin is also interested in the intersection between writers and the technologies they use to compose, and how the interaction between writers and technologies affect composing processes.



Board Member Profile: Kevin Brock

Kevin-BrockKevin Brock



Ph.D., North Carolina State University


Dr. Kevin Brock currently serves on the CarolinasWPA Board as the At-Large South Carolina Representative. New to the Board, Kevin has been in contact with the organization from several stances – as a NTT lecturer, graduate student, and now as a TT assistant professor. It is his goal to promote the CarolinasWPA mission of communication both among different institutions and among the different roles/groups within those institutions, particularly in South Carolina. Kevin hopes to continue to build on what his colleagues have worked to create, believing that CarolinasWPA and the WPAs, instructors, and graduate students of South Carolina schools have much to offer one another.


Kevin is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of South Carolina. Kevin’s primary research interest is studying software programming as a form of rhetorical communication. He studies the activity of programming, the code texts that activity produces, and how rhetoricians can help inform programming-related pedagogy by approaching it as a composing practice. In conjunction with this, Kevin also looks to how software developers can help us understand what programming shares and does not share with other kinds of composing practices.


“There’s a lot to love about composition and its various overlapping fields,” says Kevin.


In addition to his book project that explores the rhetorical nature of software development, Kevin is currently interested in digital rhetoric, multimodal composition, technical communication, professional writing, and writing program administration



Board Member Profile: Jessie Moore

Jessie-MooreJessie L. Moore



Ph.D., 2004, Purdue University

M.A., 2001, Purdue University

B.A., 1999, University of Wyoming


Dr. Jessie Moore serves as the Web and List Manager for CarolinasWPA. In this role, Jessie’s goal is to help the organization extend the community of practice around writing program administration in the Carolinas. CarolinasWPA has two annual events that help to build this sense of community, but there are no sustained networking practices for staying connected throughout the year. As Web and List Manager, Jessie hopes to help the Board create structures and tools that members can use to collaborate and learn from each other in-between conferences.


Outside of CarolinasWPA, Jessie’s research interests include disciplinary research on writing practices and transdisciplinary research on learning, teaching, and faculty development. Her current research focuses on faculty change towards high-impact pedagogies, writers’ transfer of writing knowledge and practices, the writing lives of university students, and multi-institutional research strategies for the scholarship of teaching and learning. Jessie uses these often intersecting research threads to inform her teaching, program administration, and professional service.


Jessie is the Associate Director of the Center for Engaged Learning and an Associate Professor of Professional Writing and Rhetoric in the Department of English at Elon University. She also chairs the Communications Committee for the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL).


Board Member Profile: Nancy Barendse

Nancy-BarendseNancy Barendse



PhD., University of South Carolina

M.A., Clemson University

B.A., Auburn University


Dr. Nancy Barendse currently serves as Treasurer for CarolinasWPA. She is a Professor of English at Charleston Southern University. Nancy’s goal for CarolinasWPA is that the organization will continue to involve members such as herself, who teach at small schools that either lack or have underdeveloped writing programs within the English Department.


“I have found it invaluable to be able to talk with and learn from people who speak my language, people who share my view on writing,” says Nancy of CarolinasWPA.


Nancy’s research interests include digital and multi-modal rhetoric. She is also involved with the National Council of Teachers of English, Assembly for Literature for Adolescents, and Council of Writing Program Administrators. Nancy has had articles and reviews appear in the Journal of Teaching Writing, The SECOL Review and the Concise Dictionary of Literary Biography.


Board Member Profile: Rachel Spear

Rachel-SpearRachel Spear



Ph.D., Louisiana State University

Ed.S., Louisiana State University

M.A., Louisiana State University

B.A., Millsaps College


Dr. Rachel N. Spear serves as an At-Large CarolinasWPA board member in South Carolina. Rachel describes CarolinasWPA as the “ideal organization for collaboration, connection, and community.” Her goal as one of the South Carolina representatives is to increase the presence and participation of SC writing faculty and administrators in the organization. She also wishes to strengthen the ease of communicating and working with others with like interests.


Rachel’s research interests include writing pedagogy and writing studies, with a focus that relies on interdisciplinary studies to investigate women’s life-writing post-trauma and the transformative benefit of writing one’s story. Her recent publications and conference presentations include “Let Me Tell You a Story’: On Teaching Trauma Narratives, Writing, and Healing” in Pedagogy; “Can’t We JUST Write!?: The Risks and Rewards of Using Mindfulness and Expressive Writing in Revision Workshops” at CCCC; and “Changing Rape Culture through Curriculum and Collaboration” at NeMLA.


In addition to her research and work with CarolinasWPA, Rachel is an Associate Professor of English and Coordinator of the Composition Program at Francis Marion University. She also serves as the Women’s and Gender Studies Caucus Board Representative for the Northeast Modern Language Association.

Board Member Profile: Collie Fulford


Collie Fulford



Ph.D., 2009, University of Massachusetts – Amherst

M.A., 2005, University of Massachusetts – Amherst

B.A., 2002, Keene State College


Collie Fulford is the President-Elect for CarolinasWPA.  She is an Assistant Professor of English composition and rhetoric in the Department of Language and Literature at North Carolina Central University where she directs First-Year Writing and chairs the writing concentration committee.


Collie is interested in increasing minority engagement in CarolinasWPA and diversifying the institutions that are involved in the organization. She feels that writing programs operate in highly complex organizations and are thus often sites of crisis and conflict. Collie believes this situational reality also means, however, that they can be sites of great creativity and collaboration.


“CarolinasWPA provides occasions for members to broach the most challenging aspects of teaching and program administration while tapping into our collective creativity, humor, and wisdom,” says Collie.


Her current research addresses minority education and writing program development. She also studies the rhetoric of higher education.  Her recent articles in IJSoTL, WPA, and Composition Studies pertain to writing program administration issues.