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Philosophy of Administration

I urge you: trudge not through life leaving ugly gashes, tiptoe not through life leaving
half-formed impressions, but tread gently, lovingly and purposefully,
leaving graceful heart-prints.
Unity Dow, feminist writer and human rights activist

As the epigraph of this philosophy suggests, I believe that a WPA should be purposeful in her actions:
she should foster a community of collaboration, active listening, and mutual exchange, make
thoughtful, impactful decisions for the betterment of her writing program, and by the end of her
tenure, leave behind a model that is at once sustainable, innovative, and empowering. Achieving
these goals, of course, is complex and long-term; however, in what follows, I present my own vision
for a WPA, a vision that is based in feminist practice and grounded in a management style that is
transparent, honest, and visionary. As I believe a WPA should see herself as a member within an
ecological system, not as a manager within a predetermined hierarchy, she should always strive to:

Encourage creativity
A WPAs first responsibility is to encourage innovation in the writing classroom while also keeping
the ministry of her program in mind. She should have a clear idea of her curriculum and her desired
student outcomes while also allowing room for new ideas. She should circumvent traditional
hierarchies by allowing her graduate students to offer suggestions and use those suggestions to
reward creative pursuits in teaching. By fostering a culture of creativity, she will keep her teachers
interested in their work, combat what is disdainfully known by many as the conservative writing
program, and encourage pedagogical innovation and active discussions about teaching and writing.

Believe in the value of scholarship
An effective WPA should never see her work as tangential to her scholarship. Instead, she should
view her daily tasks as fodder for future scholarship. Maintaining a sense of curiosity and interest
should underline all of her work, from training GATs, to assigning courses, to assessing her program,
to working with outside entities. She should consciously conceive of [her] administrative work and
[her] program as generative of data, making new connections and keeping her work relevant and
useful (*Rose and Weiser 276). A scholarly approach is necessary, as it is entirely too easy to allow
mundane tasks to overwhelm a curious mind. Therefore, a WPA needs to find inspiration in her daily
work while also nurturing her other intellectual pursuits.

Foster collaboration
As a leader, a WPA should do what she can to connect her writing program to the community
outside the walls of the academy. Because writing at the college level is an inherently public act, I
believe that any writing program should offer its expertise to local businesses, schools, and
Kristin Winet
PhD Candidate
Rhetoric and Composition
1800 E. Seneca St.
Tucson, AZ 85719
(Cell) 678-860-8601
(Email) kkm@email.arizona.edu
nonprofits in order to maintain an active, helpful presence in the world and to instill a sense of
connection between the academy and the public. By doing this, students will understand that they
have both agency and words that matter, thus fostering a more positive feeling toward writing and
the process of writing.

Promote the discipline, the collegium, and the workplace
Taking this idea from Louise Phelps, who believes that WPAs should place themselves within this
trifecta of professional spaces, I, too, uphold the notion that an effective WPA must be actively
engaged in her work as a writer, a scholar, and an administrator (16). One job should never usurp the
other. Rather, these three areas should support each other as the WPA leads her program toward
sustainability and innovation. They should, in other words, work toward balancea balance
characterized by equal negotiation and shared responsibilities.

Engage in rhetorically aware leadership
An effective WPA should be patient, recognize challenges, and be clear with expectations. To do this,
she should outline her goals clearly and always take feedback from her coworkers and her students
into consideration as she refines those goals. Everything she does and implements should fit in with
the greater ministry of the university community, and she should always strive to make decisions
that are beneficial to the local culture of her department. When leading her team, she should uphold
a high level of integrity, passion, and dedication to her teaching advisors and graduate students by
ensuring that they do not feel as if they are being managed, but rather encouraged and challenged to
excel in their work. The best way to ensure accountability, in my opinion, is for the WPA to
communicate clearly and effectively, assess when needed, and be confident in her decisions.

Be a voice for the writing program
As the connective tissue between the writing program and outside entities (whether those entities
be higher-up administration or the local community), an effective WPA needs to internalize the
multiple voices in her program and ensure that she is speaking on behalf of herself, her team, and
her students. Because she is, quite literally, the face of her program, she should endeavor to offer
solid evidence for the efficacy of her program, dutifully keep records of changes, updates, and
assessments, and maintain a publicly positive attitude about her program to its constituents. By
doing this, she will increase the level of productivity in her team as well as guarantee that her
program is a vital part of its community.

Reflect and re-assess
In the spirit of Weiser and Rose, I agree that a WPA should always strive to legitimize her work
through reflection-in-action, or praxis (Theorizing 188). She should document all important
changes as they are made and continually reinvestigate and reflect on the successes and failures of
her program. By continually re-assessing what works and what doesnt within her program, an
effective WPA can engage in the kind of rhetorically-savvy assessment espoused by Kathleen Blake
Yancey; as she writes, assessment is not only political, but it is a highly rhetorical act that must be
located within local practice to enhance validity (140). Good assessment, then, requires good
reflection and a good sense of what is needed and valued in her particular writing program and its
mission. It also requires a WPA who is willing to change, adapt, and listen.

*Works Cited in Philosophy:
Phelps, Louise. Turtles All the Way Down: Educating Academic Leaders. The Writing Program
Administrators Resource: A Guide to Reflective Institutional Practice. Eds. Stuart C. Brown and
Theresa Enos. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002. 16-17. Print.
Rose, Shirley K. and Irwin Weiser. The WPA as Resaercher and Archivist. The Writing Program
Administrator as Theorist: Making Knowledge Work. Ed. Shirley Rose and Irwin Weiser.
Portsmouth: Boynton/Cook, 2002. 276-277. Print.
Weiser, Irwin and Shirley K. Rose. Theorizing Writing Program Theorizing. The Writing Program
Administrator as Theorist: Making Knowledge Work. Ed. Shirley Rose and Irwin Weiser.
Portsmouth: Boynton/Cook, 2002. 188. Print.
Yancey, Kathleen Blake. Looking Back as We Look Forward: Historicizing Writing Assessment.
Assessing Writing: A Critical Sourcebook. Eds. Brian Huot and Peggy ONeill. Urbana, Illinois:
Bedford/St.Martins, 2009. 131-149. Print.