English Writing Program

Appointment and reappointment procedures for staffing the first year writing program 

The First Year Writing Program is the component of the University Writing Program responsible for staffing and supervising the following courses: ENGLWP 111, Basic Writing; ENGLWP 112, College Writing; ENGLWP 112H, College Writing (Honors Sections); ENGWLP 113, College Writing in the Computer Classroom, and other special sections of College Writing sponsored by Residential/Academic Programs.

A. General Statement of Eligibility and Departmental Distribution of Graduate Students Funded

All graduate students already enrolled at the University and those accepted for graduate study are eligible to be considered for teaching positions in the First Year Writing Program.

The majority of TOs funded by the Writing Program will be enrolled in graduate programs in English. We try to maintain a roughly equal ratio of appointments between MA/PhD and MFA candidates—assuming enough of these applicants receive a sufficiently high ranking according to the Writing Program criteria listed in section B.2 of this document. A smaller percentage of TOs will be from graduate programs in other university departments, again assuming enough of these applicants receive sufficiently high rankings according to Writing Program criteria. All applicants must also be recommended for support by their department or program heads.

The rationale for this distribution of appointments is that the First Year Writing Program has a special relationship with the English Department: our courses are offered as English courses; English Department faculty support the Writing Program by serving as Course Directors; the department offers graduate studies in Writing and the Teaching of Writing; the Writing Program Director is a member of the English Department faculty. However, the First Year Program also recognizes a connection with departments across the campus; it is one component of a university-wide program that includes the cross-disciplinary Junior Year Writing Program. Both programs are founded on the assumption that writing is central to the work of all disciplines and that the teaching of writing is a collective responsibility in the academic community. Given that assumption, the Writing Program is committed to funding some TOs from departments other than English.

B. Appointment procedures and criteria for graduate students wishing to apply for first-time appointments in the first year writing program 

1. Invitation to Apply for Positions:

Prior to the start of each academic year, notice of available positions in the First Year Writing Program will be sent to graduate students in the English Department, all Deans, Department Heads and Chairs, and Graduate Program Directors, the on-campus GEO office, the Student Employment Office, the Assistantship Office at the Graduate School, and any other central locations designated by the Graduate Employee Organization.

2. General Appointment Criteria:

The program aims to appoint candidates likely to be the best teachers of expository writing. Appointment decisions are based on an evaluation of each applicant’s potential as a teacher in the writing courses offered by the First Year Program.

To evaluate applicants, The Writing Program staff reviews the following application materials:

  • A completed application form, available from the Writing Program Office, 305 Bartlett Hall, 545-0610.
  • A curriculum vitae.
  • Two confidential letters of recommendation addressing the candidate’s potential as a teacher of writing.
  • A sample of the candidate’s expository writing.

On the basis of this screening, candidates will be selected for interviews to take place in person or by telephone.

We also evaluate applicants according to the following criteria:

  • Applicants’ teaching/tutoring experience. Preference will be given to those with experience teaching or tutoring writing, although other teaching/tutoring experience will still be considered an asset as would any other related experience such as editorial work;
  • Applicants’ related academic experience;
  • Applicants’ ability to write clear, expository prose in English;
  • Applicants’ ability to communicate with students and conduct a writing class;
  • Assurances by applicants’ degree departments that the applicants are making appropriate progress toward their degrees, or have been accepted for graduate study.

3. Notification:

By May 15, all candidates will be notified by letter if they have been appointed or not. Those not appointed will be informed about the likelihood of their being appointed.

4. Assignment:

Newly appointed TOs will be assigned to ENGLWP 112 except for instances where sufficient, qualified, interested veterans are not available for specialized courses (111, 112H, and 113). TOs will be asked to indicate their preferences for teaching days and times. The Writing Program will try to honor these preferences based on the order in which they are received and Writing Program needs.

C. Reappointment for graduate students who hold positions as teaching associates in the writing program

1. Program Criteria for Reappointment:

Reappointment to teaching positions in the Writing Program will be based on our primary commitment to offer the best writing instruction we can to the students we teach. We will also seek to provide financial support to as many qualified graduate students as our budget will allow. Therefore, we aim to reappoint all TOs in good standing who have not exceeded their statute of limitations regarding financial support. TOs maintain good standing by fulfilling their contractual obligations. These include participating in course director meetings, attending training sessions, allowing course directors to observe their classes once each semester, meeting with course directors to discuss classroom observations and evaluations, and following Writing Program policies and teaching practices. Graduate students seeking reappointment must also be making satisfactory progress toward their degrees.

In reappointing graduate students from English, we follow that department’s guidelines for the number of semesters graduate students are eligible for funding. At present these guidelines are MFA: 6 semesters; MA to PhD: 10 semesters; BA to PhD: 14 semesters. For students from other departments, we limit funding to 10 semesters. When we have particular needs or shortages, we may make exceptions to these guidelines.

2. Invitation to Reapply:

In March, a memo will be sent asking eligible Writing Program TOs in good standing whether they wish to be considered for reappointment. TOs who have applied for reappointment will be notified by letter of the decision no later than May 15. Reappointed TOs will be invited to indicate their preferences for courses. Those courses include 111: Basic Writing, 112: College Writing, 112 Residential, 112 Honors, 113: College Writing in the Computer Classroom. Decisions regarding TO preferences for teaching assignments will be based on seniority, relevant expertise and experience in a specific area, level of interest, and Writing Program staffing needs. TOs will also be invited to indicate their preferences for teaching days and times. These preferences will be honored based on the order we receive them and Writing Program scheduling needs. TOs will be notified of their assignments in writing no later than three weeks before classes begin.

3. Procedures for Counseling TOs Experiencing Difficulty Meeting Reappointment Criteria and Warning TOs about Possible Non-Renewal of Contract or Discharge:

Where a TO is experiencing significant difficulty with his or her teaching, the Director, Deputy Director, or an Assistant Director will meet with the TO to discuss the specific problem and offer reasonable assistance in addressing the problem. Significant difficulty may be defined in a variety of ways. Here are some examples: failure to meet contractual obligations (meeting classes, attending course director meetings, adhering to Writing Program instructional guidelines); reports of notable and credible criticisms by students on course evaluations; credible complaints by students to the Writing Program about problematic teaching behavior. If the difficulty persists, the Director will meet again with the TO and give written notification of the need for improvement or change in order to be reappointed. The TO will have one probationary semester to demonstrate amelioration of the problem.

More immediate action will be taken if the Director feels there is cause to do so because of the seriousness of the problem or violation of the contract. In these cases, written notification of a probationary period may be issued in conjunction with the first oral discussion. In extreme cases, the TO’s contract may be terminated.

Any TO who is subject to disciplinary action, non-renewal of a contract, or termination of a contract shall be able to grieve that decision, following the procedures outlined the GEO Agreement.