Cornell University has been named a "College of the Year" by TIME magazine and The Princeton Review for its successful and innovative writing program, the John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines.
"It's a great honor for Cornell to be recognized by TIME as a national leader in developing the kind of discipline-specific approach to the teaching of writing that lies at the core of the Knight Institute's philosophy," said Jonathan Monroe, director of the Knight Writing Program, professor of comparative literature and the George Reed Professor of Writing and Rhetoric at Cornell. "TIME's recognition attests to the sustained commitment and effectiveness of the many Cornell faculty, graduate students and administrators who have helped make writing such an integral part of learning, and to the growing influence over the past several decades of writing-in-the-disciplines (WID) and writing-across-the-curriculum (WAC) approaches to writing instruction in higher education generally."
For the first time, the 2001 edition of The Best College for You, a co-publication of TIME and The Princeton Review, has named four different types of institutions as Colleges of the Year, "to reflect the diversity in higher education," according to a TIME statement released today (Aug. 17, 2000).
"This year, the editors focused on writing-across-the-curriculum programs, which teach students to use writing as an exercise in clear thinking, regardless of their field of study," according to the release.
"We used writing-across-the-curriculum and similar programs as a vehicle to explore how institutions are helping their students develop the high-level critical thinking skills that are so important to society," said Ellie McGrath, editor of the guide. "Because these courses require attentive teaching, this approach also enabled us to underscore the ongoing importance of faculty-student interaction."
Cornell was honored as the private research university. The three other schools named include Sarah Lawrence in Bronxville, N.Y., as the liberal arts college; Longview Community College in Lee's Summit, Mo., as the two-year college; and Clemson University in Clemson, S.C., as the public university.
"Cornell is committed to maintaining a culture of writing," said Cornell President Hunter Rawlings.
Cornell's John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines uses small seminars to help students think and write clearly and creatively. With a focus on making the teaching of writing the responsibility of every discipline and with the support of tenured faculty from 30 departments, the Knight Program maintains a highly visible profile. The university now spends approximately $6 million a year on writing-intensive courses and has devoted 100 tenured faculty members to it.
Monroe said that fundamental to the program's success are the twin ideas that students learn the most and learn to write best by engaging what most interests them and that writing is most effectively conceived not as a mere tool or skill, but as a learning activity bound up with and inseparable from the specific contents, activities and habits of thought and inquiry particular to specific disciplines.
The Knight Program originally was created at Cornell in 1986 with a $5 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in the memory of founder and Cornell alumnus John S. Knight. Initially intended as a one-time memorial grant, the foundation was so pleased with the success of the program that it made additional grants over the years and asked Cornell to develop a national program. In 1999, some 3,800 Cornell students enrolled in classes associated with the Knight Program. It also has become a national model for other schools.
The Best College for You does not rank schools but, rather, recognizes those that are improving the education of their students and setting examples for others. It hits newsstands and bookstores Aug. 21.