On behalf of our CWPA leadership and our wonderful Local Arrangements team, it is a great pleasure to welcome you to Sacramento. As Scholar/Administrators, you work every day to offer students at our postsecondary institutions a rich and equitable literacy education. History has taught us that literacy skills are the single most important force that drives social mobility, educational success, deep learning, and rich personal lives. We gather to share the innovative approaches to our work with our colleagues and friends.
As we gather, we might pause to remind ourselves that even in difficult times, we are doing something quite unique. Unlike businesses that jealously guard trade secrets, we act in a spirit of generous scholarship to make them widely available to others. Unlike agendas that speak the language of exclusivity and exceptionalism, we innovate on behalf of all who come to us. And unlike those who judge language skills by their conformity, we support the ways that language can unleash creativity, critical thought, and real dialogue. The conference theme, “What if We Tried This?” challenged WPA members to imagine and share a wider vision for administrating writing programs. And the rich program of presentations you will experience is a testament to how well you have all responded to that challenge.
At this year’s conference, you will find a wider array of genres, including 28 posters or interactive poster sessions. You will find a large variety of delivery techniques, from Pecha Kucha and Ignite sessions to interactive workshops and audience-participation sessions. You will hear from administrators at HBCUs, at two-year colleges, at small colleges, and at major research institutions. You will learn from Writing Center Directors, General Education administrators, and WAC/WID Directors. Our graduate students will benefit by the “Scholarly Maker Space,” where they can share ideas and work together toward advancing their administrative and research skills. And we will hear from experts who consider literacy a tool for social change, for representing the voices of our LGBTQT students and colleagues, and for advocating for fair labor conditions, transnational and ELL students, and migrants to our country.
Aware of the collective wisdom that this group represents, we have worked to provide venues for idea-sharing and conversation in formal sessions as well as in our meals and social activities. WPA-GO has worked with me to continue the Scholarly Maker Space, a place for collaborative work and for sessions dedicated specifically to topics of interest to graduate students and those who serve them. Our Local Arrangements team has arranged for a lunchtime discussion about systemic racism and micro-aggressions led by local Black Lives Matter representatives. And they have built many ways for you to experience the joys of their Sacramento home. To open our Conference, Past President Susan Miller-Cochran will deliver a plenary address that addresses a question that we all have struggled with: Is it still possible to administer a writing program without losing one’s soul?
We convene as a scholarly community, as a support group, and as individuals quite willing challenge one another to seek new ways forward. For over 20 years, I have found the CWPA community to be my community. I think you’ll find that it is yours as well.
So, be assured that you—and all of your ideas, your spirit, your resilience, and your vulnerabilities—are welcome here. You will be among friends. My sincerest welcome.
Naylor Endowed Professor of Writing Studies
York College of Pennsylvania
President, Council of Writing Program Administrators