|Need good business writers? Look to SFSU|
January 14, 2005
Technical and Professional Writing (TPW) Program -- which prepares students
for careers as workplace writers, editors and communications managers
who develop online and print publications -- is one of 11 programs worldwide
to win the first Conference on College Composition and Communication
(CCCC) Writing Program Certificate of Excellence.
SFSU was noted in particular for its curriculum that integrates theory and practice, assessment of students based on their portfolio and internships, applications of technology, and commitment to diversity. The TPW Program also is distinctive because it is an independent program within the College of Humanities and not part of a larger department.
TPW students -- who compose a diverse group -- often participate in community service learning projects. For example, they write grant proposals and develop promotional materials for nonprofits that serve gays and lesbians, Native Americans, immigrant populations and advocates of social justice.
TPW Director and Professor Louise Rehling was pleasantly surprised to learn that SFSU won.
"We're like the little engine that could," said Rehling, who joined SFSU in 1994. "We are different and we are small. There are universities with larger programs and more faculty, so it's great that we could still have a light to shine."
SFSU is the only university in California to offer a bachelor's degree in technical and professional writing. The degree program was established in 1990, seven years after a minor was first offered and six years after a certificate was introduced. At present, there are 46 majors and about 25 to 50 students working toward a certificate or a minor.
Students appreciate the program's rigor, expertise of the faculty and opportunities to perform real-life work that enhances their portfolios.
"The greatest sets of skills I have gained out of the program were to be able to plan, write and edit any document with more confidence and ease," said junior Leah Scampoli, a TPW major. "But more than becoming a better writer, the TPW Program has given me the chance to find out what kind of writing I excel in and enjoy doing."
Graduates of the program enter a growing job market that pays well, Rehling said. The business world needs more good writers, as even the most seasoned executives are challenged by communicating via the written word. A recent National Commission on Writing study concluded that one-third of employees in the nation's top companies wrote poorly and that business spent as much as $3.1 billion each year on remedial training.
The study recently garnered national attention with articles in such newspapers as The New York Times and San Antonio Express. Rehling provided writing tips in a New York Daily News story on the topic.
The CCCC Writing Program Certificate of Excellence, part of the National Council of Teachers of English, recognizes up to 20 writing programs per year that offer exemplary professional development for faculty; use up-to-date best practices; use effective, ongoing assessment and implementation procedures; emphasize diversity and/or serve diverse communities; have appropriate class sizes; and have a leader with academic credentials in writing.
The certificate will be presented at the annual CCCC conference held March 18 in San Francisco.
-- Matt Itelson
1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132 (415) 338-1111