Writing and Rhetoric department wins national award at CCCC


Jim Nugent, program director of the Writing and Rhetoric major, is pictured with the Writing Program Certificate of Excellence OU received from the Conference on College Composition and Communication.

Paige Brockway, Editor-in-Chief

“I feel like the dad from ‘A Christmas Story’ when I tell people, ‘It’s a major award!’” said Dr. Jim Nugent, who accepted a Writing Program Certificate of Excellence on behalf of Oakland University’s Writing and Rhetoric (WRT) major in April.

The WRT major was presented the award, alongside a program from Roger Williams University, at the annual Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) in Houston, Texas. The award may be presented to up to 20 programs, but only two were selected as winners this year.

Nugent is director of the WRT major and also teaches classes like Rhetoric of Web Design, Business Writing and Editing. He said that OU’s WRT major owes the award to its unique curriculum, dedicated faculty and favorable student-to-faculty ratio.

Unlike many university writing programs, OU’s WRT department is completely independent. Most similar programs are embedded in English departments.

The WRT department is also fairly young. It opened its doors in 2008 with a curriculum developed by Nugent, Dr. Marshall Kitchens and Dr. Lori Ostergaard.

“The newness of our program is a big asset because that’s what lets us have a curriculum that is innovative,” Nugent said. “We’re not tied down to ‘the way they’ve always done it.’ We’re not tied down to tradition.”

There are currently 38 WRT majors, which allows for one-on-one faculty attention and feedback, according to Nugent. Four students graduated with degrees in WRT this April.

“It seems like people come to our major kind of late … I think it’s because they don’t know that we exist and they don’t know what they can do with this type of degree,” Nugent said.

He described majoring or minoring in WRT as “practical,” adding that the WRT department is “the place to go for non-fiction writing,” where students can study writing and writing theory that isn’t necessarily grounded in the literature-based study offered by the Department of English.

Also housed by the WRT department is the First-Year Writing Program, which won a Writing Program Certificate of Excellence at CCCC in 2012.

CCCC is “the world’s largest professional organization for researching and teaching composition, from writing to new media,” according to the conference’s website.

More than 3,000 higher education faculty participate in the conference each year.

For more information about majoring or minoring in WRT, visit www.oakland.edu/wrt/.