Beginning next year, the College will employ a Director of Writing and Rhetoric, a position recently created by the Office of Academic Affairs.

The Director will have diverse teaching and administrative responsibilities, which will include overseeing the Writing Project and the first-year seminar program, teaching one or two courses a semester in writing or rhetoric, and designing and implementing various campus-wide initiatives in writing and rhetoric.

The College has been considering making this role for several years in part because of the success it has seen with the Director of Quantitative Reasoning position, currently occupied by Professor Eric Gaze.

The Office of Academic Affairs recently secured the funding for the Director of Writing and Rhetoric, which has allowed them to begin actively searching for candidates.

An external review of the English department several years ago made clear that many Bowdoin students had a desire to take courses in expository writing. Currently, English Composition (Eng 1060) is one of the only offerings that meets this demand.

The Director may teach a similar course, but the goal of this position is to diversify writing opportunities across academic disciplines, not just within English courses. The Office of Academic Affairs also wants the Director to address students with a desire to write who come from varying skill and experience levels, be it a first year who may not have an adequate command of writing, or a senior writing his or her honors paper.

The rhetoric aspect of this position indicates that the Director will also be tasked with proposing projects or courses that examine how writing and spoken word converge. According to Dean of Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd, there has been a reemergence of the study of rhetoric in the U.S. and there are many strong PhD programs in the field.

First and foremost, however, the Director will step in to unite all the current initiatives Bowdoin has in place to foster writing at the College.

“We have these terrific programs like Kathleen O’Connor’s Writing Project and the First Year Seminar Program,” said Professor Nancy Jennings, a professor and chair of the education department, who is head of the search committee for the Director. “But there isn’t anybody who has the charge of thinking about how these programs fit together, where the gaps are, and how we really put together a comprehensive approach to writing.”