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Ensuring Excellence in Language

Professors Awarded NEH Grant to Support Writing Programs

Debra Romanick BaldwinDate published: July 10, 2020

Chair and Associate Professor of English Debra Romanick Baldwin, Ph.D., and Professor of Physics and recent Interim Dean of Constantin College Sally Hicks, Ph.D., have secured a $299,078 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support writing instruction at UD for the fall 2020 semester.

The grant is titled “Ensuring Excellence in Language at the University of Dallas: Writing Well in the Time of COVID-19,” and it will be used to fund affiliate and adjunct positions in UD’s English, Modern Languages and Journalism programs, as well as tutoring and mentoring positions in writing programs on campus, including the Writing Lab and Seven Arts of Language program. All of these positions had been made vulnerable by the financial effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I am so grateful that Dr. Romanick Baldwin seized the opportunity to secure this grant. With the help of former Interim Dean of Constantin Dr. Sally Hicks, Dr. Romanick Baldwin has bolstered our ability to continue to provide outstanding instruction in one of the most distinctive features of our education, teaching students to write well,” said Provost Jonathan J. Sanford, Ph.D. “The short term help this grant provides is a great boon to our work in the fall. Longer term, her efforts have supplied further momentum for continued progress in securing new resources to advance our mission."

Matt Spring in Seven ArtsRomanick Baldwin enthusiastically described how the grant supports what makes UD so distinctive: “Our application made clear that the UD writing program doesn’t consist of separate ‘composition’ courses, but rather a writing-intensive Literary Tradition sequence that participates in the larger vision of the Core, requires students to engage difficult and unabridged texts, and cultivates the breadth and depth of mind and heart to make one a better citizen and human being. Such a broad vision necessarily entails foreign languages and naturally extends to journalism.” She added, laughing, “And where else but UD would you find a collaboration like this one between a modernist with a passion for the classics, and a physicist who advocates for the arts?”  

While preserving these important teaching and tutoring positions, the grant will ensure the small class size needed for effective writing instruction.

“Learning how to write clearly and effectively is hard,” said Romanick Baldwin. “It happens word by word, line by line, over and over — and it's a process that requires the individual support that only small classes allow. The age of COVID-19 makes that individual support even more crucial and challenging, whether the words being crafted are on a page or on a screen.”

While the grant is just for one semester, Romanick Baldwin hopes that both its educational vision and its practical benefits will extend well beyond its term.

Header and Bottom Photos: Academic Success Director Matt Spring, PhD '15, works with students in the Seven Arts of Language program.

Top Photo: Debra Romanick Baldwin