Faculty, students recognized with Writing Program Awards

Each year, members of the university community are recognized with Writing Program Awards.

The Department of English, SAGES and the Writing Program awarded this year’s teaching and student writing awards at a celebration May 3. 

Jessica Melton Perry Award for Distinguished Teaching in Disciplinary & Professional Writing

Vanessa Hildebrand, professor in the Department of Anthropology, was named the winner of this year’s Jessica Melton Perry Award for Distinguished Teaching in Disciplinary & Professional Writing.

The award recognizes outstanding instruction in writing in professional fields and/or disciplines other than English.

No stranger to accolades, Hildebrand has been nominated for the Carl F. Wittke Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the J. Bruce Jackson Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring. She has been described as “an unsung hero” in the Department of Anthropology, in part due to her teaching and mentorship of student writers on both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

One of her capstone advisees explained that the power of her mentorship is in part rooted in her belief in each student’s capability: “Dr. Hildebrand helped me through countless revisions of a fellowship proposal so I could go abroad for my research. Her immense patience, support, and above all encouragement have served as great motivation over the last year and a half. Part of what makes her such a wonderful advisor is her approachability and faith in her students.”

Another student described Hildebrand’s “unwavering commitment to her students, and her ability to foster a distinct desire to learn in her classes.” The student continued: “At the end of each course I took with Dr. Hildebrand, I was able to see a distinct change in the style, tone, and voice of my writing. More than just technique, however, the information I gained from Dr. Hildebrand’s class readings directly influenced my viewpoint on a number of issues, and pushed me to look at my older writing through a new framework.”

Hildebrand encourages her students—whether undergraduates, graduate students or the graduate teaching assistants that work closely with her— to view writing as central to the work they do and to their budding professional identity.

Her colleague, Eileen Anderson-Fye, praised Hildebrand’s ability to foster “communities of writers” both in her classes and among her advisees: “Students read each other’s work and learn how to assess good writing, which in turn makes them better writers. This process also teaches them how to be productive colleagues for a lifetime.”

SAGES Excellence in Writing Instruction Award

James Newlin, a lecturer in the Department of English, won the SAGES Excellence in Writing Instruction Award, which recognizes outstanding commitment to and success in teaching academic writing to CWRU undergraduates in SAGES.

One of Newlin’s students praised his ability to understand his students and respond to their questions in engaging and effective ways. Newlin, the student explained, “invites the class to look at both sides of an argument thoroughly. Instead of just quickly answering a student’s question, he can teach an insightful lesson stemming from it and help students lead themselves to the answer.” The student continued: “His writing advice is incredible. He is always supportive, but not afraid to provide criticism where it is due. Dr. Newlin is the best writing teacher I have ever learned from.”

Newlin’s teaching embodies the philosophy of the SAGES program—a seminar-approach to writing instruction that challenges students not just to be better communicators but better thinkers who ask urgent, complicated questions about the world.

WRC Excellence in Consulting Award

John Wiehl, a lecturer in the Department of English, was honored with the WRC Excellence in Consulting Award, which recognizes outstanding writing instruction for students of the university and exemplary service to the Writing Resource Center during the academic year.

Many of Wiehl’s students were very enthusiastic about his instructional style. According to one of his students, Wiehl “took a million and one steps to make sure that my writing actually improved over the semester. He didn’t just tell me what he wanted, he inspired me to be better.”

Another student wrote: “Dr. Wiehl has routinely provided me with reliable and straightforward advice on my writing for both his class and my other classes. He has helped me to greatly improve my style and I’ve grown into a better writer and student.”

Yet another student wrote: “Appointments never feel nerve-wrecking [sic] with John. He does a great job of guiding [you] while not doing too much so that it never feels like the work isn’t yours. He’s also just really funny and sweet and it makes writing fun, even [kinds of] writing that really shouldn’t be fun.”

SAGES First and University Seminar Essay Prizes

The SAGES First and University Seminar Essay Prizes recognize the best writing that students produce in their First and University Seminars. These essays are chosen from those nominated by SAGES seminar leaders each semester.

The University Seminar Awards are judged in September and recognized at the Celebration of Student Writing in December of each year. The winners for Academic Year 2016-2017 are:

  • Katherine Steinberg for the essay, “Translation in Paradise: The Intersection of Languages and their Impact in Gurnah’s East Africa,” written for USSY 285V (“Castaways and Cannibals: Stories of Empire”) led by Kristine Kelly.
  • Erin Camia for the essay “RBF and the Reluctance to Accept Women’s Anger,” written for USSY 289J (“Beauty Myths Today”) led by Megan Jewell.
  • Jessica Nash for the essay “Re-fashioning the Field: On Gender and Computer Science” written for USNA 287P (“Women and Science”) led by Barbara Burgess-Van Aken.
  • Ondrej Maxian for the essay “Conserving Culture: CBPR as a Framework for Group Research” written for USNA 287K (“Human Research Ethics”) led by Michael Householder

The First Seminar Awards are judged in January and recognized at the Celebration of Student Writing in April each year. The winners for Academic Year 2016-2017 are:

  • Zhihan Wang for the essay “Myth Dismissed: A Case Study on College Students’ Perceptions of Sleep Deprivation” written for FSCC 100(“Social Meanings of Health”) led by Mary Assad.
  • Yiyang Wang for the essay “Two Sides of a Coin – Analysis of An Unquiet Mind” written for FSCC 100 (“Social Meanings of Health”) led by Mary Assad.
  • Claire Howard for the essay “Unethical Behavior in the Wounded Warrior Project” written for FSSO 119 (“Philanthropy in America”) led by Barbara Burgess-Van Aken.

The essays will be posted online this summer at writing.case.edu/.