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KNOXVILLE—The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, English department’s writing program has been nationally recognized as a program of excellence.

The Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) has awarded a Certificate of Excellence to UT’s writing program, which includes the first-year composition (FYC) program and the Writing Center.

The award will be presented at the CCCC annual convention in St. Louis, Missouri, on March 23.

Stan Garner, professor and English Department head at UT, said receiving this award is a great honor.

“This award recognizes what we’ve long known, which is that our first-year composition program and our Writing Center are among the nation’s best,” Garner said. “We’re proud to receive this award.”

The award application cited the FYC program’s “rhetoric- and research-intensive curriculum that teaches transferable skills and prepares students to communicate and create new knowledge in the many different disciplinary communities they encounter in their undergraduate courses and beyond.”

Kirsten Benson, adjunct assistant professor of English and interim director of the FYC program, said the English 101 and 102 courses were redesigned several years ago as part of the implementation of a new FYC curriculum.

“Since all incoming UT students take these two English courses, we want the courses, and the first-year program as a whole, to help our students become better communicators across a wide range of academic disciplines,” Benson said.

The FYC program was the source of English professor John C. Hodges’s inspiration to create the Hodges Harbrace Handbook in 1941. Today, the program also hosts the Stokely Conference for Teaching Writing, a professional development conference that helps K-12 teachers in East Tennessee enhance the quality of writing at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

The award application also cited the Writing Center, which was established in 1936. An endowment from the family of former UT Trustee William B. Stokely allowed the creation of a new facility for the Writing Center and the hiring of a full-time director in 1996.

Marcel Brouwers, English department lecturer and acting director of the Writing Center, said they receive thousands of student visits each year.

“Students from all over campus, from any subject area, come here seeking one-to-one help from our tutors, as well as the writing workshop courses we offer to first-year students,” Brouwers said. Those courses include individual tutoring as well as an extensive array of Blackboard-based writing resources.

The Writing Center also helps increase student retention by teaching English 103 and 104 during the UT LEAD summer program, which helps students from underperforming high schools get a good start to their college career.

The CCCC award selection committee recently notified UT that it had won the Certificate of Excellence, noting that UT’s overall writing program is “outstanding” and “demonstrates ongoing program assessments and studies with ample professional development for all instructors and also a strong two-semester requirement.”

To view a video about the writing program that accompanied the award application, visit

For more information about the first-year composition program, visit For more information about the Writing Center, visit


Stanton Garner (865-974-6927,

Charles Primm (865-974-5180,