New writing minor offered soon

Beginning as soon as next fall, students will have the option to minor in Workplace Writing and get a Professional Writing Certificate upon graduation. This is thanks to the efforts of a few determined faculty members who have gotten a new English minor off the ground.

The minor is the end result of an idea by Dr. Roxanne Kent-Drury, an English professor. Kent-Drury spent ten years in the aerospace industry working for NASA, writing technical reports and proposals. She was looking for a way to share her knowledge and prepare students for careers in technical or business writing.

“I wanted to develop a program for students who might be interested in pursuing careers in professional writing,” said Kent-Drury.

She says there are many career options available for people who poses these specialized writing abilities.

“There are lots of very lucrative careers out there for people with these skills and I wanted to provide a way for these career options to be available to our students.”

For three years, Kent-Drury worked on a way to offer classes that would provide these skills to her students. After sketching out a curriculum, she took the idea to Danny Miller, dean of the English department.

“Dr. Kent-Drury wanted a way to prepare her students for writing assignments they might face in the workplace,” Miller said. “We worked together to develop a program that would familiarize students with the obstacles they might face in a work setting.”

The hard work has resulted in the new English minor. It will encompass English classes already offered like Business Writing, Technical Writing and Legal Writing, as well as Desktop Publishing, a class offered in the Journalism department.

New classes are being offered as part of the 21-hour curriculum. Classes like Workplace Editing, Workplace Writing for the Web, Writing in Workplace Genres and a Portfolio Development course have all been added.

Kent-Drury says the Portfolio Development course will be especially helpful in landing a job. She said it will provide the student with a collection of their professional writing samples in a portfolio that can be shown to potential employers, which she said will be quite powerful in the job search.

In addition to the new classes, additional software had to be purchased to keep current with today’s business practices. The English department acquired $15,000 in grants to purchase the software. The grants will also be used to update the software as it becomes outdated.

Miller said the Workplace Writing minor should entice people of all majors. He said it may be of particular interest to those entering professional degree programs or business professions.

“This minor would compliment any major nicely,” Miller said. “This could include those who wish to enter medicine or law, or those entering the business world upon graduation.”

Kent-Drury and Miller hope to offer a Professional Writing Certificate upon completion of the program.

“The certificate may be of interest to those who have already graduated or those who are working and could advance their career by acquiring the skills taught in the curriculum,” Kent-Drury said.

The program is in its last stage of approval. If the Curriculum Committee, an arm of the Faculty Senate, approves the master class list and all requests, the new classes could be offered as soon as the fall semester.

Students can, however, take the classes that are already being offered. They can then apply the classes to the minor once they declare it as part of their studies.