U.S. News Lauds Mason’s Writing Across the Curriculum Efforts

Posted: August 31, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Rey Banks

George Mason finds itself in the company of Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Sarah Lawrence, and Harvard when it comes to instruction in the art of writing across the disciplines. According to U.S. News and World Report’s America’s Best Colleges,2005 Edition, Mason and these other colleges “typically make writing a priority at all levels of instruction and across the curriculum. Students are encouraged to produce and refine various forms of writing for different audiences in different disciplines.”

George Mason can credit its strong showing in writing to the Writing Across the Curriculum Program (WAC), which grew out of a 1977 literacy task force to address the growing “literacy crisis” in America.

“We have a strong culture of writing in the disciplines at George Mason dating back 25 years,” says Terry Myers Zawacki, director of WAC and the university Writing Center. “We have a committed and concerned faculty and a supportive administration, and we cultivate partnerships with many other university programs and initiatives. Many of our faculty members and the program leaders—Chris Thaiss, the past director, and I—have also been active in writing across the curriculum nationally through conference participation, publications, and consulting at other institutions.”

All of George Mason’s undergraduate students are required to take writing-intensive courses within their major and advanced composition in the disciplines (English 302). In addition, Mason faculty members employ teaching practices to work with writers and writing in their courses.

This is the third year that U.S. News has published a list of schools with outstanding examples of academic programs that are believed to lead to student success. With the help of education experts, including staff members of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, eight programs, including writing across the disciplines, were identified. College presidents, chief academic officers, and deans were invited to nominate up to 10 institutions with stellar examples of each program type.

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