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>  News Releases >   2008 >   January

Dartmouth launches Institute for Writing and Rhetoric

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 01/30/08 • Sue Knapp • (603) 646-3661

The Office of the Dean of Faculty is pleased to announce the establishment of the Dartmouth Institute for Writing and Rhetoric. The ability to communicate ideas clearly and persuasively is an essential feature of a liberal arts education, and the Institute enriches the long-term commitment of Dartmouth's faculty to teaching these skills.

The Institute for Writing and Rhetoric will combine the existing Writing Program with new courses in speech, rhetoric, and advanced writing. It will also continue to enhance writing support services for students. The Institute follows from recommendations made by a number of faculty committees and councils over the past six years.

Dean of the Faculty Carol Folt noted, "Our first-year seminar program has long served as a leader among colleges and universities around the country. But faculty from all disciplines at the College felt that we could and should do even more to enhance our students' critical communication skills. The expanded course offerings and the cross-fertilization of writing with speech is designed to provide Dartmouth students with an exceptional opportunity to develop vital skills that will last them a lifetime."

By launching the Institute, Dartmouth will accomplish a number of long-standing faculty priorities. Over the next several years faculty members and the Office of the Dean of Faculty will:

  • eliminate all exemptions from the Writing Requirement so that all students will now take two writing courses;
  • add two positions to teach courses in public speaking;
  • introduce upper-level writing instruction in non-writing intensive disciplines;
  • offer a wider array of writing courses for students who desire to develop greater sophistication in their ability in written communication;
  • expand student support services, including writing assistance for students taking foreign language courses;
  • develop and implement assessment tools to determine the effectiveness of the teaching of writing and speech.

Dartmouth is currently searching for a new Director of the Institute and for an instructor in Speech and Rhetoric. The Director will report to the Associate Dean for International and Interdisciplinary Programs, Lindsay Whaley. Whaley is also a professor of classics and chair of the linguistics program.

"Dartmouth has a very strong foundation on which to build this Institute in large part because of the excellence of the current faculty in writing and the efforts of the outgoing director of the Writing Program, Professor of Computer Science Tom Cormen, and his staff", says Whaley. "Writing has been a priority of the faculty in many departments and for years the English department oversaw the teaching of expository writing. The English faculty continues to play an essential role in the teaching of writing, but they are joined in this by faculty from all disciplines, and this breadth of engagement distinguishes our program."

The Institute will be housed in Baker Library, where the Writing Program is currently located. President James Wright and Provost Barry Scherr have strongly supported the development of excellence in writing and rhetoric. President Wright identified this as a priority goal in his annual report to the faculty last October, and endowed support for this project is a goal of the current Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience. Wright and Scherr have identified the resources that will enable the Institute to be launched immediately.

Dartmouth President Wright and Provost Scherr also have made available $1.2 million in additional resources to the Office of the Dean of Faculty, to be used over the next five years to enhance offerings in key growth areas of the Dartmouth curriculum, including the areas of economics, government, Chinese, and Arabic. The Dean of Faculty office has already allocated additional courses for 2008-09 in response to student interest in these areas.

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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