In “WPA Work at the Small College or University,” Amorose (2000) points out that the small-school program administrator is at a unique advantage as “composition’s symbolic authority” on campus. This is due in part because “writing instruction is often so enmeshed in the small school’s self-enacting discourse—from its marketing and admissions materials to its claims of ‘certifying’ graduates as ‘writing-proficient’--that its sacredness as part of the institution’s mission is unquestioned” (94). At The University of Findlay (UF) specifically, I also found this to be true. Nearly all programs outside English support writing instruction by enforcing writing requirements, accepting placement decisions from the Director of Writing, and taking a proactive approach to strengthening their students’ writing skills within the major by performing self-studies.
UF is also supportive when it comes to increased technology use on campus, which makes it somewhat unusual among liberal arts colleges. Nancy Millichap, director of the Midwest Instructional Technology Center, notes that smaller colleges often view technology more suspiciously than large universities and “tend to have fewer students, faculty and administrators to justify and support new technologies” (as qtd. in Jorgenson 5). While UF does have a smaller instructional technology staff, it also has a second “academic technology staff” who support and study faculty integration of technology including whiteboards, podcasting, and digital filmmaking at the Teaching, Learning, and Technology Center. As a result, faculty who want to use Web 2.0 technologies ranging from Flickr to blogs to Google Docs benefit from both technological and theoretical support.
Students similarly have extensive up-to-date programs and resources, including a counterpart Student Technology Center to help with digital films, podcasts, and webpages. While UF does not have the space for every composition course in a computer lab full time, there are several laptop sections and some courses taught in labs. Courses taught in traditional classrooms have access to a lab that can be reserved weekly. The dual benefit of available computer access combined with a technology- and writing- receptive faculty made implementing the Multimodal Composition Initiative a rapid process.