Strategic Teacups: Work That Matters at MU

Published on May 12, 2016

teacup

When Win Horner, the late chair of the task force that would bring the Campus Writing Program into being, first organized the task force meetings she knew she needed a way to communicate the importance of the work to the committee members. Not only did she need to motivate the task force members to attend the 7:00 AM meetings—the only available time they could all meet, but she needed to impress on them that this work mattered to the university community.

One way Dr. Horner conveyed the significance of the task force’s work was by insisting that the coffee be served in ceramic cups. She believed that ceramic cups were a small detail that could make a big difference in cultivating an environment where faculty would perceive their writing instruction as central—rather than peripheral—to MU’s academic mission. This relatively small investment also reflected the university’s commitment to faculty as writing instructors.

Of course, the teacups had to be more than just symbolic for them to be meaningful. Faculty members’ participation in workshops and seminars was also supported by stipends and lunches. These elements of the program were not simply “perks” or recognition for the additional work faculty put into WI courses. Instead, these elements communicated to the university community how seriously MU took the Campus Writing Program. It transformed writing instruction from lowly, service-level grunt work to rigorous, scholarly, and rewarding work that faculty members of all levels were engaged in.

MU’s investment in faculty through the Campus Writing Program has resulted in innovative curricula that engage students in experiential learning in a creative, academically rigorous way. In fact, the Campus Writing Program is consistently listed as a top Writing-in-the-Disciplines school in U.S. News and World Report—alongside the likes of Harvard, Yale, Princeton and other highly prestigious institutions.

By Naomi Clark

CWP Graduate Assistant

2014