History of the Writing Program
*1970: The faculty votes to drop required freshman composition. The English department continues to offer English 101, described as “closely supervised practice in effective writing—expository, persuasive, expressive.”
*1971-1980: Three new composition courses are added to the English department offerings: English 102: “Writing seminars. Continued practice in effective writing”; English 100: “closely supervised practice in effective writing with emphasis on basic skills”; and English 111, a “workshop course in expository prose with emphasis on the organization of ideas and development of style." Later, as the college moved toward developing writing-across-the-curriculum, some of those courses were eliminated.
*1978: The Writing Center is established, located in the lower level of the library adjacent to the smoking lounge and employing five peer tutors.
*1979: The position of Writing Center Director is created and held by tenure-track member of the English Department who has 1/3 reassigned time to run the center.
*1981: The Freshman Seminar program is established, taught by faculty from across the disciplines and intended “to introduce students to Dickinson as a “community of inquiry” by developing habits of mind essential to liberal learning….through the study of a compelling issue or broad topic chosen by their faculty member.” The Writing Center “provides special support for freshmen who are in the process of acclimating themselves to the demands of college.”
*1985: A permanent Director of the Writing Program and Writing Center is hired to implement a Writing Across the Curriculum program. The Writing Center moves from the library to the student union building
*1980-1989: The English department further refines its composition offerings. English 111 becomes English 211, a course “in expository writing which focuses on the writing process itself, emphasizing the organization of ideas and development of style.” A second course, English 212 Writing: Special Topics, is added, a “course in analytical thinking and writing which develops expository skills though the exploration of such topics as popular culture, sport in American life, the short story, and journalism.”
*1989: A Writing Program entry is added to the college catalogue. It is described as consisting of “the freshman seminars, writing courses in the English department, writing enriched courses across the curriculum and the writing center.”
*1990/1991: The duties of Director of Writing and Director of the Writing Center are divided. The Director of Writing position is held by a new tenure-track member of the English department with 1/3 reassigned time to run the Writing Program. The Writing Center Director is an academic professional with a part-time faculty appointment in the English department.
*1993: Writing Enriched courses are redefined as those which “the instructor designs to make writing central to learning. In these courses, students must have the opportunity to write and revise drafts of papers, an activity that has proven to be the most effective way to help students improve their writing.”
*1994: The General Education Committee issues a document entitled “The State of Writing at Dickinson College 1994”. A summary of its findings reads: “Writing is taught across and up & down the curriculum by faculty from all disciplines; teaching students -–both majors and non-majors—to write is thus conceived as part of the general task we assume when we engage them in the study of biology or philosophy or anthropology or any other disciplinary or inter-disciplinary field of inquiry.”
*1998: A Writing Intensive graduation requirement is approved by the faculty; beginning with the class of 2003, all students are required to take one WR course, which is described as “a course that teaches students that writing is a process of planning, drafting, revising, and editing. A WR course may also introduce students to the specific forms of writing common to a discipline, teach students strategies for identifying and correcting error and polishing prose style, and encourage students to read attentively for content and an author’s purpose, audience, and context.”
*2002: The Writing Center moves back to the lower level of the library in an expanded space to accommodate a staff that has grown to 32 peer tutors.
*2004: The Writing Center moves to the main level of the library.
*2005: The Writing Center is renamed the Norman M. Eberly Writing Center in honor of a gift from the Eberly family for renovation and furnishing of the new space.
*2006: A self-study and review of the Writing Program and Writing Center are conducted. One major recommendation of the external reviewers is that the college hires a permanent, full-time Writing Program director at the senior level.
*2008: An ESL specialist is hired to teach writing courses designed for ESL/ELL students and to tutor in the Eberly Writing Center.
*2009: A new full-time Director of the Writing Program, supported by an assistant director, is hired to direct the Writing Program and Writing Center, to design faculty workshops, develop writing intensive courses, oversee the ESL/ELL program, and create new initiatives.
*2010: The Multilingual Writing Center opens, assisting writers of all levels and abilities who are working on essays written in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, or Spanish. An additional gift from the Eberly family supports the establishment of the MWC on the ground floor of Bosler Hall. A Writing Associates program is implemented, providing peer writing assistants to individual professors teaching First-Year Seminars and Writing Intensive courses .
*2011: Arabic, Hebrew, and Portguese writing tutors join the Multilingual Writing Center. The Writing Center offers its services to the International Fellows at the Army War College who are pursuing the Master's of Strategic Studies Degree.
*2012: The Multilingual Writing Center relocates from the ground floor of Bosler Hall to a more spacious room in the Waidner-Spahr Library. The Writing Program launches a programmatic assessment project that looks at writing across the levels and disciplines.