N.C. A&T Building Capacity to Enhance Student Writing Proficiency

Frances Ward-Johnson, dean of N.C. A&T’s College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, was successful in her quest to secure grant funding to expand Aggie student access to high quality writing programs and resources on campus.

The university received $500,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to expand its University Writing Center and the Department of English’s writing program to develop a robust writing curriculum including experiential learning opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students.

“Our goal is to serve the writing development needs for all students, not just those in arts and humanities,” explains Ward-Johnson. “Students from across our campus can take advantage of robust programming and tutors to help them expand their capabilities in this area.”

Less than five percent of the university’s grants come from foundations, which makes the Mellon Foundation grant very unique at N.C. A&T. Foundations typically partner with organizations that strive to create significant, lasting, and transformational change for people, which is why this partnership is so important to the university community.

The university will invest the Mellon Foundation funds over three years, expanding the University’s Writing Center staff (located on the third floor of the General Classroom Building) by adding an assistant director and increasing the number of tutors.

The grant funds both undergraduate and graduate research opportunities for writing professors and students, integrating a writing-across-the-curriculum program to reach diverse majors on campus and online, highlighting the benefits of arts and humanities beyond general education courses. To complement its undergraduate program in technical writing, the program seeks to establish a technical writing program for graduate students, connecting disciplines in the arts and humanities with those in business and STEM.

“Our ability to expand the writing center, and associated programs, will facilitate greater student success at all levels and strengthen the foundation for a more successful entrance into the workforce,” said Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Beryl McEwen.

In addition to funding writing workshops for students, the grant also supports outreach to professors, extending hands-on training to assist with the formulation of writing exercises and research topics.

In summer 2019, the university launched its first bridge program focused on writing for needs-based students as a way to strengthen writing skills in preparation for the challenges of college-level writing. The program hosted 13 newly admitted students on campus, representing North Carolina high schools from Charlotte to Havelock.