This is the full text of a Daily Pennsylvanian article that can be found here.
New writing fellows to teach in college houses
Added positions part of Critical Writing Program expansion
By Olivia Bonner
April 06, 2004
Penn's new Critical Writing Program is making efforts to increase student interest in writing
by appointing two writing fellows to live in Fisher Hassenfeld and W.E.B. DuBois college
houses next year.
Director of CWP Valerie Ross was excited about the partnership between the writing system and
College Houses and Academic Services at Penn.
"It's a natural partnership in its shared vision of creating an intellectual and social
community," she said, adding that the collaboration upholds the "philosophy that writing is at
once an intellectual and social act."
The Critical Writing Fellows who were chosen for next year are doctoral candidates John
Lessard, who will be living in DuBois, and Grant Potts, who will be in Fisher Hassenfeld.
They will each teach a critical writing seminar both semesters that will be held in their
respective college houses. The sessions will be open to interested freshmen also living in the
"The two fellows were finalists in a very competitive process ... a record number of
applicants [expressed interest in] this distinguished fellowship," Ross said, adding that the
students chosen have a strong academic record, are in good standing with their peers and are
close to completing their graduate work.
The fellows chosen are excited about the opportunity to present writing in a new way to
"I've been teaching writing for a number of years now, and I feel like one of the limitations
of the writing [courses] at Penn is that you have a certain relationship to your students that
takes place only in the classroom, and it's hard to think about writing outside that box,"
said Lessard, who is in his seventh year of graduate studies at Penn.
He added that he is enthusiastic about the program because it "asks students and it asks me as
a teacher or instructor to make that connection before it gets lost in the normal sort of
class environment. What I'll be trying to do is connect students with an idea of writing that
goes beyond the classroom."
The fellows chosen will be provided with room and board and a meal plan.
The CWP was also created as an extension of the undergraduate peer advising writing system
that has been at place at Penn for years.
Ross realized that it is sometimes inconvenient for peer advisers and those seeking help to
leave their dormitories and go to places such as Kelly Writers House.
"This fall, I started talking to students ... and I read all the evaluations for the fall. ...
It became clear to me that we have a very powerful student writing culture in existence," Ross
said of the reason for wanting to expand the outlets around campus for students interested in
Lessard said he felt that having a good understanding of writing is essential in almost any
career that students will enter.
"I think what's good about this program is that by living in the house and relating to
students through writing [in] a different way ... it can help to create that bond ... between
them and their own sense of writing ... to make writing more a part of their life," said
Organizers are enthusiastic about the selected fellows.
"We couldn't get better teachers in the house -- they're the cream of the crop, and they're
fun as well. They're dynamic teachers and as innovative [as] the program itself," Ross added.