Dr. Quinn

a woman of words

Professional Writing & Rhetoric @ McKendree: Here to Stay!

Professional Writing and Rhetoric Program @ McKendree

Professional Writing and Rhetoric Program @ McKendree


Thursday evening (7 November 2013) we had the monthly full faculty meeting on campus at McKendree University and our Professional Writing and Rhetoric Program was approved. (Without a hitch AND without any revision suggestions or needs!)

Dr. Joy Santee (@Circumtrektion) activated the program’s Twitter account, and I am up early working on the Facebook Page (and waiting for my educator’s license of Adobe Captivate and the Creative Cloud to activate so I can download/access all my goodies!). Next week, I am meeting with our Marketing Department to begin building the program’s webpages (can I just admit I am having the ultimate NERD high right now?!? New undergraduate program, new software, new website!).

So, while all that is happening in the background, check us out! @McKendreePWR

So, What Happened after the Previous PWR Post?

In my previous post (from 22 October 2013 “PW&R: The Early Stages of Developing a Professional Writing & Rhetoric Program”) regarding the early stages of developing this undergraduate degree, I shared the steps and approaches Santee and I followed to initially develop the program structure and rationale for the proposal.

Once we completed the groundwork, we took a break (over the summer, that is, while I moved from Ohio to the McKendree area in Southern Illinois). While we didn’t actively build, I don’t think either of us really stopped thinking about program development.  (Constructing an undergraduate degree, I found at least, is very much like developing a dissertation. There might be lulls, but you never completely turn off the light switch when you leave the room.) Emails still continued to fly back and forth as we continued to amass resources and ideas for the program proposal itself, individual courses, and assessment.

Building – s’more

In early Fall 2013 semester, then, we picked up again. The Spring 2013 work we’d already completed really paid off. We were able to use the early drafts and notes to construct the narrative sections of our proposal and to conceptualize the courses we planned to offer.

As a new faculty member, I was (and still am to a certain degree) unfamiliar with course scheduling procedures and constraints at McKendree, such as the number of required degree courses, courses allowed from other disciplines, and overlap between those courses (because students can only double dip so many courses, especially if they are double majors). So, Santee had the pleasure of working out those details. While we discussed, and then agreed upon, the number of required and elective courses and credit hours, Santee also had to negotiate when and how often our courses would be offered. (Because of this, she is also going to tackle the 4- and 3-year graduation plans for the program now that it has been approved!)

What has been extremely helpful for me has been meeting with the folks in Admissions and Advising, as well as completing Advising training. I now appreciate and understand the challenges with recruiting and scheduling (both in offering courses and helping students select their courses). The goal is to graduate the students, so we want that to run as smooth as possible!

To that end, we had to decide on the number of credit hours students in the PWR Program would have to complete in order to graduate. We thought we had that figured out at roughly 42 credit hours. But the times are changing, and when coupled with the general education courses, the concern then becomes “can we graduate someone in four years?” Another constraint is the push for 3-year graduation cycles. So, we ultimately changed the degree requirements to 39 credit hours. I can say with confidence that at 39 credit hours, this program is going to thoroughly prepare students to be competitive professionals upon graduating (while completing their education McKendree style!).

Another factor we were tackling as we developed our proposal was the actual design of the document. McKendree is currently revising its Course Catalog so that all program descriptions, including course listings and descriptions, are uniform. Our PWR Program piloted the new look — which is far more streamlined and direct.


Once we drafted multiple versions of the proposal, we first presented it to the Humanities Division. After a few minor editing suggestions (and a fabulous compliment regarding “how polished” the program looked!!), we then sent off the proposal to the College of Arts and Science – where it also received approval and full support. A month later (after the proposal was approved by Undergraduate Council), the proposal went before the entire faculty and here we now stand — early November and the program is go for launch.

A Side Note:

Because the English Department had just completed its Program Review process, the Humanities Division was anticipating this proposal. Early on Santee also vetted a lot of programs and individuals, including the Provost, so when we presented the program in the fall to the division and the college, most individuals knew it was coming AND were eager to support the endeavor! It helps to network and promote a program proposal.

Current Daft of the Proposal

I have alluded to the PWR Program Proposal a number of times throughout this post. I’d debated whether I would share the various drafts, but I think that would just be too much (if anyone cares to see those, however, I do have copies of our earlier drafts).

So, the proposal, below, is one of the more current drafts. A few tweaks have already been made as it traveled through Undergrad Council, but this can give you a sense of the full program and the new layout for the 2014-15 McKendree Course Catalog.

View this document on Scribd

Wrapping-Up and Moving On

Now we are moving on with our marketing plans and developing the courses (this also includes aligning course learning outcomes with the program learning outcomes, as well as determining program assessment instruments. Can I just say now I am uber excited to tackle this? Seriously, assessment rocks the Casba – at least my Casba…).

Come back for links and updates on the PWR Program website! In the meantime, check out our humble Facebook Page: Professional Writing and Rhetoric @ McKendree University (https://www.facebook.com/McKPWR).

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