The West Point Writing Program
Endorsed unanimously by the Academic Board and enacted by Superintendent LTG Robert L. Caslen Jr. in May, 2016, the Writing Program is an Academy-level initiative that was approved in concept in November, 2014 as a key component of West Point's new curriculum.
At that time, the Academic Board deemed some manner of “writing-across-the-disciplines program” essential not merely to sustaining the study of writing at the Academy—given the elimination from the new core curriculum of one of two previously required courses in general composition (EN302: Advanced Composition through Cultural Studies)—but ultimately to expanding that study in light of growing concerns about writing proficiency, at West Point and across colleges and the Army generally.
Over the next year and a half, at the direction of West Point's thirteenth Dean, BG (R) Timothy E. Trainor, a dozen experienced faculty and administrators developed recommendations for the design of the Program. The final design was based on on extensive consideration of 1) scholarship in the field; 2) the programs and practices of identified peer and aspirant institutions; 3) the strengths and needs of the present curriculum and faculty body; 4) the insights of senior leaders across the Academy.
Our design thus incorporated widely accepted principles and practices of peer and aspirant institutions while also specifically adapting them to the unique needs of West Point, often in response to incisive feedback from USMA faculty, alumni, Cadets, and staff. Importantly, the final design also built on other recently-made institutional gains in writing education, including the establishment of a Writing Fellows Program in 2012 and Writing Center in 2013, both of which were originally sponsored by the Department of English and Philosophy and subsequently realigned under the Writing Program in the Office of the Dean.
With its approval by Superintendent Caslen, and with the full support of USMA's fourteenth Dean (BG Cindy R. Jebb), the Writing Program was fully phased in to the life of the Academy for the 2017-2018 Academic Year.
Step by step, the Program promises to make positive changes in the diverse cultures of writing that flourish at West Point, and to do its part in fulfilling the Academy's mission to educate, train, and inspire leaders of character who are prepared for professional careers in the Army as well as lifetimes of service to the nation.