Dear Friends and Alums* of the Sweetland Center for Writing,
You and I know that Sweetland’s faculty are dedicated to students’ well-being; the faculty are admirably creative in their approaches to teaching at all levels. From behind the scenes, I can tell you that when a former student sends a note to their instructor about how a course made a difference in their lives, the instructor feels a renewed commitment and sense of reward in their daily work. Students help us recognize our best assignment ideas and pedagogical strategies—and motivate us to imagine what we might do better. If you’ve never written to a teacher who made a difference in your life, now is always a good time to do so!
If you are a Sweetland alum, I hope you’ll take time this week to submit a profile to our Alums Gallery. Let us and your peers know what kinds of writing you’re doing now—or would like to do. It’s fascinating to see the diverse careers people have after college, and the Gallery helps us recognize the trajectories students take after they engage Sweetland programs.
As Sweetland’s director, I’d love to hear from alums in an email (email@example.com) about how their Sweetland studies have mattered in their post-college careers. I want to use information gathered from alums to assess our programs’ long-term value. Having this information would help us more effectively communicate the potential personal and career value of Sweetland programs.
Alums who would like to mentor current students can do so by signing up with LSA Connect, a program run by the LSA Opportunity Hub that enables undergraduates here to find alums willing to talk with them about subjects of mutual interest. Alums choose their level of engagement and subjects they’re willing to discuss with students. Networking with alums can greatly impact students’ professional development and influence the choices they make as they pursue their interests in and after college.
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility are core Sweetland values, and we are always looking for ways to enact them at every level, from placement into first-year writing to the Dissertation Writing Institute. In the past year, Sweetland faculty have worked particularly on professional development related to anti-racist pedagogy, multimodal composition, and equitable assessment. I have re-invented the first-year writing placement to make it more equitable and inclusive. Sweetland’s Associate Director, Simone Sessolo, worked last year with every college in Michigan to identify first-year writing courses that he can approve to fulfill our requirement. In doing so, he smoothed the route for many transfer students coming to the University of Michigan. During the 2022-23 academic year, a new Student Advisory Board on Accessibility will present me with recommendations about how to improve inclusion for students with disabilities. We have evaluated our website and physical space for accessibility and will be making changes in the coming months so that all students, faculty, and staff will be able to use our resources. Our shared values are not just abstract principles; we use them to develop ethical and equitable programs.
I’m fortunate to be able to work with the exceptional teachers and staff at Sweetland. I hope you feel the same!
Director, Sweetland Center for Writing, Professor of English, and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor
*Traditionally, we refer to an alumnus or group of alumni, an example of Latin language used in modern English. As a Latinist, I feel uncomfortable with the gendering of alumnus/alumni (m) or alumna/alumnae (f), so I use a modern ungendered English version of the word: alum or alums.