Will students one day improve their writing skills by taking an engineering class? That’s one of the goals of an innovative series of changes in how UCF teaches writing.

UCF’s new Department of Writing and Rhetoric will serve as a flagship program to coordinate comprehensive writing instruction and support across the university. As part of its mission, the new department will implement a “Writing Across the Curriculum” program called Knights Write to ensure students are prepared to write effectively in all of their courses.

Toward that end, Knights Write will provide support to help interested faculty members in all disciplines integrate writing into their courses to help students develop into more effective and versatile writers. UCF’s would be only the second writing curriculum program at a Florida public university. It could potentially grow into the largest such program in the country.

The new department and program changes were initiated by the College of Arts and Humanities and approved by the UCF administration.

“These changes will build upon our outstanding programs to create a unique UCF writing experience,” said Provost and Executive Vice President Terry Hickey. “This department will be a national model for how large public universities can improve students’ writing skills. These changes, along with the efforts of our dedicated faculty members, will further prepare students for success throughout their academic careers and after they graduate.”

Although universities are increasingly moving to stand-alone writing departments, few coordinate all of the writing support, services and scholarship as thoroughly as UCF’s Department of Writing and Rhetoric will. The university is investing about $1.7 million in the new program during the next four years.

To ensure students receive a consistent and rigorous writing education, UCF will convert 22 adjunct and 12 visiting instructor positions to 18 permanent instructor positions devoted to teaching composition. UCF will become one of only a few universities in the country that employ only full-time instructors to teach composition courses.

These changes will help create curricular consistency and rigor in Composition I and II courses (ENC 1101 and 1102) that provide a strong foundation for writing throughout the university.

The Writing and Rhetoric Department will be charged with coordinating university writing instruction and support, and designing coursework based in the best writing-related research in order to provide UCF students with a coherent and rigorous writing experience. Toward that end, Writing and Rhetoric faculty will provide support and consultations to colleagues from across the university.

“We expect these changes to increase student writing within the discipline, increase retention rates and shorten the time many students need to graduate,” said Jose Fernandez, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities.

“Building the new department with tenured and tenure-track faculty whose work centers on writing and rhetoric is one of the strengths of this endeavor. These changes will empower them to better serve students.”

The department’s tenured and tenure-track faculty will conduct writing-related research with a strong emphasis on the scholarship of teaching, learning and writing in the disciplines.