1999: Mary Coney and Jimmie Killingsworth

Citation for
Mary Coney
Elevated to ATTW Fellow, March 1999
(written by Donald Cunningham)

The Fellows Committee of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing is pleased to elevate Mary Coney to the position of Fellow.

Mary is a professor and associate chair in the Department of Technical Communication at the University of Washington. Mary has contributed greatly to the development of our field in her work with ATTW and the Council of Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication. She has served her own department in its development of a graduate program and has established a research record in such areas as audience analysis.

Mary's many accomplishments are, of course, too numerous to list now. However, I would like to highlight her Fellows Award for Best Article in The Technical Writing Teacher in 1988 for "Contemporary Views of Audience" and her Faculty Achievement Award in the College of Engineering at the University of Washington for outstanding research and teaching. Mary has advised or served as committee member for an impressive number of theses and dissertations, ranging from "Ghandi and Technology of Poverty and Wealth" to "The Role of the Reader in Technical Writing: An Ethnomethodological Examination." She has developed graduate seminars on such topics as Theoretical Dimensions of Technical Communication and has been instrumental in creating an international exchange program for faculty and students at the University of Washington.

Mary has published on such topics as author-reader relationships in computer documentation, audience analysis, readers and their rhetorical roles, curriculum design, and style. Her work appears in the most respected journals: The Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, The Journal of Computer Documentation, The ASEE Journal of Engineering Education, IEEE Transactions in Professional Communication, Technical Communication, and the Journal of Advanced Composition. Her piece on technical communication theory opens the theory section of the 1996 Ablex/ATTW collection titled Foundations of Technical Communication.

Mary also consults with the public schools and industry in the Seattle/Puget Sound area and has obtained grants to work on international education and on improving writing skills in industry. Finally, Mary has been a featured or keynote speaker at eleven conferences and meetings and has presented regularly at the annual meetings of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, the Council of Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication, and the Society for Technical Communication.

First, I want to read a message of congratulations from Mary's colleagues at the University of Washington:

Unfortunately Professor Coney is the only one of our faculty able to attend this ceremony, so we her colleagues in the Department of Technical Communication at the University of Washington have borrowed a voice to allow us to add our congratulations to yours. Mary has been for all of us a respected scholar and teacher, a valued mentor and colleague, and above all a good friend. She continues to set standards that we all strive to equal in research, in teaching, and in service (not to mention in political footwork and wardrobe development). Here at UW, Mary has just received a huge vote of confidence from the faculty at large in being elected Chair of the UW Faculty Senate. As she moves forward to address this new challenge, we know that she will especially value your expression of esteem in selecting her as a Fellow of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing. Congratulations, Mary!

Indeed, Mary has a record worthy of elevation to ATTW–given her research, her teaching excellence, her curricular development, and her service to the profession. But Mary brings a personal charm and warmth to all these activities that goes beyond the professional character noted in her accomplishments. Good-humored, hard-working, energetic, and welcoming to all, Mary is a true friend to many of us.

I and the other ATTW Fellows are pleased to honor Mary Coney in this way, and we look forward to many more years of service and friendship with her. Congratulations, Mary!


Citation for
Jimmie Killingsworth
Elevated to ATTW Fellow, March 1999
(written by Carolyn Rude)

Jimmie Killingsworth is probably best known for his scholarship, but in honoring him as a fellow of ATTW, I will also cite the opportunities he has created for others—an act both of collegiality and of scholarship.

Through his scholarship he has contributed to the knowledge of the field, to defining and shaping its directions, and to setting high standards for its inquiries.

His work includes two major books in the field:

  • Signs, Genres, and Communities in Technical Communication, co-authored with Michael Gilbertson
  • Ecospeak: Rhetoric and Environmental Politics in America, co-authored with Jacqueline Palmer

Both of these books join a fairly small number of book-length studies in the communication of scientific and technical subjects. In a field in which the usual publication is the article or collection, Jimmie has offered sustained studies noted especially for their grounding in theory but also for the way they point to connections between our field and communities beyond us. I hear the word “community” in much of Jimmie’s work. Thus, from his work, we have new insights into the communities that define values and create ideas, and we have particular insight into various communities that articulate values and actions regarding the environment.

Jimmie himself might be defined as a community—he’s published not just these books but also articles in virtually every journal with connections to technical communication, a textbook, and work in literature as well. He’s been rewarded and acknowledged and cited. Sometimes I think there must be more than one Jimmie Killingsworth to do so much.

Given his academic interest in communities, it’s not surprising that one of his major contributions to the field has been to create opportunities for others to develop their own scholarship. As the first editor of the ATTW series in technical communication through Ablex Publishers, he has launched a publication series with eight books in print since 1997 and two more on their way. Much of this work has been invisible, behind-the scenes negotiation with Ablex to define a vision for the series and to convert skepticism into support. In addition, Jimmie has recruited a number of authors and editors for the series, some in this room, encouraging colleagues to do their own best work but also enabling rather dramatic contributions to the knowledge of the field as a whole.

Jimmie’s CV includes much more about his academic achievements and service than I can review here, but I will mention that he will chair the NCTE Committee on Technical Communication next year.

Our field is richer for all that is in print either because of his direct contributions or the indirect ones through people he has encouraged, but it is also richer for the man—generous, able to see what is good in people, able to help them do their best—and a heck of a lot of fun, especially with a guitar or mandolin.