Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

English Rhetoric and Composition, PhD

Committee Chair

Olinger, Andrea

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Horner, Bruce

Committee Member

Horner, Bruce

Committee Member

Ryan, Susan

Committee Member

Malenczyk, Rita

Author's Keywords

writing program administration; WPA; SLAC; liberal arts; public liberal arts colleges


This study provides a focused look at the possibilities of WPA work at public liberal arts colleges. Through surveys of and interviews with WPAs and critical discourse analysis of public documents, I identify common structures of writing programs at public liberal arts colleges (PLACs), explore WPAs’ perceptions of what distinguishes writing program administration and writing instruction at these institutions, and distill the common values of public liberal arts colleges. I analyze the ways these values are articulated in mission statements and writing program websites and examine how WPAs draw on and, in some cases, resist institutional values as they develop or redesign writing programs. Survey data identifies some key differences between PLACs and private SLACS, which I speculate arises from their public status. Despite these differences, WPAs at PLACs felt a similar commitment to writing on their campuses and interview data provides insights into how WPAs worked to further formalize that commitment to writing. Furthermore, WPAs were relatively successful in advocating for programmatic efforts by appealing to the institution’s commitment to a public liberal arts identity. However, these commitments were rarely articulated in public-facing documents. Thus, I argue that WPAs should better articulate the importance of their writing programs and their contributions to fulfilling the university’s larger goals. This argument has implications for WPAs pursuing institutional change, as it demonstrates how the revision of public-facing documents can shape dominant discourses on campus.