ATTW President's Letter

Bill Hart-Davidson
Michigan State University
Fall 2011

Dear Colleagues,
As we head into the Fall of 2011 and the start of a new academic year, I'm grateful to have the opportunity to work with all of you as the President of ATTW. I want to use this space to ask you all to help the organization to grow. 

I truly believe our organization has much to offer the broader fields of Writing Studies, Rhetoric & Composition, and English Studies as we see the continuation of a trend to create four-year undergraduate degrees in Professional Writing as well as graduate programs and concentrations in Technical & Professional Communication. 
We all likely have colleagues who are teaching in these programs who may not identify themselves as "Tech Writing Scholars" but find themselves preparing students for both professional and research careers in Technical Communication. 

Many of us are also preparing graduate students who haven't given much thought to the kinds of programs in which they will be teaching when they become faculty members. You might surprise them if you point out that if they hope to teach in an undergraduate major program in their area, chances are it will be a program in Technical and Professional Writing, no matter what their own specialty may be. I've had more than one recent graduate send me a message during his or her first year of appointment as a faculty member asking if I could help revise a course or design a concentration for their technical writing major. I always say yes, if they will become ATTW members! 
It certainly pays off for them. I know that ATTW is a great place for these folks to come to talk with experienced colleagues, to ensure that their curricula are in synch with the latest research, and, of course, to share their own scholarly contributions to the field. 

Our more experienced colleagues might be just as pleased to learn that our organization, our publications, and our conference welcome and support those building majors and graduate programs. After reviewing my syllabus for a course called Content Management for Professional Writers, a colleague of mine once asked: "so...where is...this?" as she waved her hands across the stack of papers. I paused, puzzled. She clarified: "Intellectually, where would I go to learn about this and to stay up to date about it? It seems terribly important!" Well, ATTW, of course. And I pointed her specifically to the special issue of TCQ on Content Management. She was thrilled and has been telling faculty teaching in our program about TCQ and ATTW ever since. 
I am sure that some colleagues of yours can benefit from knowing a bit more about ATTW and what we do. Folks who may not otherwise feel like they have a professional organization that focuses on what they do, in fact, may well feel they have a home at ATTW. Buy them a cup of coffee and invite them to learn a bit more about our organization, won't you? You can spare them my corny tag line: ATTW, your "major" professional organization!
Have a great start to the academic year!
Bill Hart-Davidson

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