Director’s Message

Welcome to the 2017-18 academic year!

This is my first year as Writing Programs Director. Of course, I’m excited, and I’d like to tell you why.

For starters, it’s because I’m more convinced than ever that writing matters. There’s evidence for this everywhere. Here on campus we see what research shows: that undergraduates who sharpen their language and writing skills register learning gains in all of their other course work. In the workplace, studies show that employers, choosing between comparable job candidates, will deliberately select the candidate who writes better. It’s obvious to me that certain communication and rhetorical tools are absolutely essential to success at UCLA and beyond, and Writing Programs provides them.

In fact, the work we do in our classrooms and through the Undergraduate Writing Center extends into every other room on campus, in every department, right up to, and past, graduation. We foster transformative learning experiences that provide students with the perfect opportunity to appreciate their collective diversity, grow their self-confidence, and enhance their sense of belonging in the greater university community.

This, you could say, is Writing Programs’ core mission.

But our talented, devoted teaching faculty is constantly expanding the Programs’ footprint on and off campus through a variety of innovative, and important, new initiatives.

Here are just a few of them:

– We’re working with the Kayne Foundation to support the success of first-generation Kayne Scholars headed to UC and CSU campuses in STEM and business fields.
– We’re helping to provide higher-ed access to LA-metro high school students through the generosity of our Summer Writing Institute donors.
– We’re collaborating on teaching projects with the Humanities and the Social Sciences divisions, and on research with the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
– We’re developing online instructional modules with the Life Sciences and the cross-campus media group, WI+RE.
– We’re offering a graduate course on Diversity and Student-Centered Pedagogy for next-generation faculty.
– We’re volunteering writing support for students incarcerated at the California Institute for Women.
– We’re hoping to offer undergraduates more specialized writing experiences through a Professional Writing Minor, offered jointly with the English Department.

As you see, Writing Programs uses writing as a tool for inclusive teaching and for outreach, for campus-wide collaborations, for student empowerment and community building, and for innovative thinking.

I’m thrilled to be part of this moment. Please contact me if you’re interested in learning more about Writing Programs or if you’d like to get involved!

Leigh Harris
Director, Writing Programs
lharris@humnet.ucla.edu
310-267-5853