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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 14, 2005

UI Provost Appoints Writing University Task Force

University of Iowa Executive Vice President and Provost Michael J. Hogan has appointed a task force to study and recommend ways to build on the UI's longstanding reputation as the nation's premiere "writing university."

The task force, composed of faculty and staff from a wide range of UI writing programs, is co-chaired by Pat Cain, the vice provost, and by Christopher Merrill, director of the International Writing Program. The group will explore ways to create synergies among the many writing-focused units on campus.

Members include:

  • Holly Carver, director of the UI Press
  • Lan Samantha Chang, director of the Writers' Workshop
  • Pam Creedon, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication
  • David Depew, director of the Project on Rhetoric of Inquiry
  • Kristine Fitch, professor and chair of communication studies
  • Ed Folsom, professor of English
  • Robin Hemley, director of the Nonfiction Writing Program
  • Joe Kearney, associate dean for research and development in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Joan Kjaer, interim director of broadcast services
  • Alan MacVey, professor and chair of theatre arts
  • Amy Margolis, director of the Iowa Summer Writing Festival
  • James Alan McPherson, professor of creative writing
  • Jay Semel, director of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies
  • Steven Ungar, professor and chair of cinema and comparative literature
  • Russell Valentino, professor of Russian
  • Jonathan Wilcox, professor and chair of English

"The University of Iowa is internationally recognized for its world-class writing programs," said Hogan. "I want to bring the strengths of those programs together in more creative ways. This is the way to solidify our leadership in this area, and do an even better job of bringing the value of our writing programs to the whole University community and beyond."

The task force will consider a variety of potential strategies, including physically grouping the writing programs closer together on campus. They will also discuss ways to advance the Virtual Writing University Archive, a joint project by the UI's writing programs and the School of Library and Information Science to create a digital repository of recorded programs such as readings sponsored by the Writers' Workshop and the International Writing Program. The Virtual Writing University Archive can be found online at

The task force will propose five- and 10-year strategic plans for bringing the UI's writing programs together, implementing collaborative projects, and extending the programs' strengths to a wider audience on and off campus.  The group is expected to complete its work in spring 2006.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011,; Program: Pat Cain, 319 335 3991, or Christopher Merrill, 319 335 2609,