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Sitting on Top of the World: How to Think Like an Administrator March 2, 2012

I’m gonna let you in on a secret.  You might not notice it as you and your tutor talk about your paper, but around this time of year, there’s a lot going on in the back of her mind.  This is when all of us UCWbLers must begin thinking seriously about our UCWbL portfolio–a capstone for the year’s work, and what our directors call the most genuine picture of our growth, both as tutors and as members of a larger community of creatives and scholars.

For me, the part of the portfolio that has been most difficult to write is my tutoring philosophy: this will be my fourth time completing the portfolio process, so I’m a little nervous that if I try once again to reflect upon my identity as a tutor, I might come across sounding like an irritated old man, waxing nostalgic about the days of 2008.  You kids get off my lawn!

But this year, there’s cause for excitement.  For the first time, instead of creating a  philosophy of tutoring, UCWbLers have the opportunity to come up with a philosophy of writing program administration, including:

  • an exploration of the examples of leadership that have inspired us
  • an account of the successful projects we oversaw, as well as the projects that didn’t go as planned
  • a reflection on the attitudes that make a successful Writing Program Administrator

The administration philosophy has an important practical purpose: so far, many UCWbLers have gone on to Ph.D. programs and adjunct teaching positions, but others of us are considering careers in managing (or even creating) writing programs, writing centers, or writing fellows initiatives.  If you’re applying for that kind of position, it’s absolutely necessary to have a portfolio on hand to showcase your work: hence, the innovation to this year’s UCWbL portfolio.

But even if a future in writing program administration isn’t on a tutor’s horizon, there’s still a lot to be gained from thinking like an administrator in the portfolio.  For one thing, it encourages us to reexamine our leadership experiences in search of lessons that are applicable to collaborating with others, in any situation.  What excites me particularly is that I don’t have to worry about sounding like a grizzled, old tutor, as I get to sift through my experiences for insights into what makes for good administration.  This is a valuable resource to have on handy for UCWbLers who will move on to management and leadership positions in business, the non-profit world, or the public sector.

And now, there’s the writer’s age-old problem–where do I start?  Better check out some things that help writers.


So as not to disappoint anyone who read the title expecting some blues, here’s Howlin’ Wolf performing in Chicago, 1974.


One Response to “Sitting on Top of the World: How to Think Like an Administrator”

  1. lauridietz Says:

    I think your post may have been cut off. You’re leaving me hanging. I’ve enjoyed the portfolio conferences this week and am pleased to see that some people are willing to try out a writing program administration philosophy. Plus, the opportunity to touch base one-on-one with staff members reminds me how impressive and diverse everyone’s work is at the UCWbL.

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