2010: Rachel Spilka and Barbara Couture

At the 2010 Annual Conference in Louisville, KY, ATTW elevated Rachel Spilka, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and Barbara Couture, New Mexico State University, to the rank of Fellow. Citations for each are included below.

Citation for Rachel Spilka

Elevated to ATTW Fellow March 2010
(Written by Jerry Savage)

The Fellows Selection Committee of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing today elevates Rachel Spilka to the rank of Fellow.

Rachel Spilka is surely one of the most recognized names in technical communication for her contributions to the knowledge of the field. Her two books, Reshaping Technical Communication: New Directions and Changes for the 21st Century, co-edited with Barbara Mirel and Writing in the Workplace: New Research Perspectives, both received NCTE Awards for Excellence in Technical and Scientific Writing for the Best Collection of Essays. Her book chapters and her articles have consistently pointed the way into emerging concerns of our field-issues of writer-reader interactions, research methodologies, quality in technical communication, professionalization, orality and literacy, organizational cultures and boundaries-since her first publication in 1988, the year she earned her Ph.D at Carnegie Mellon University.

This is a place to say something about her Ph.D. Listen to the names of her dissertation committee: Richard Leo Enos was her chair, and the other members were John R. Hayes, Jack Selzer, and Dwight Stevenson.

Today, Rachel is an associate professor at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she has served as coordinator of the Professional Writing Program and undergraduate coordinator for the English Department. She has also taught at Purdue and University of Maine-Orono. Over her career, to date, she has taught over 30 courses, of which at least a dozen she developed for the program she was in.

Because teaching, research, and administrative duties could not keep her busy enough, Rachel took on a number of nonacademic positions as a writer or editor for such organizations as RAND Corporation, MicroSym, American Institutes for Research, Massachusetts General Hospital-she was a neurosurgical editor there-and Houghton-Mifflin Publishing. And because those activities could not keep her busy enough, Rachel has served on an STC Blue Ribbon Panel to evaluate the journal Technical Communication; on ATTW’s Executive Committee as a Member-at-Large; as a member of the ATTW Research Committee, which she subsequently chaired from 2001 to 2005. In that role, she developed and coordinated the ATTW Research Network, and with Ann Blakeslee, developed and coordinated the Research Forums at the ATTW and CPTSC conferences in 2004. She served as a judge for the NCTE Awards for best publications in technical and scientific communication for four years and was a judge for the CCCC Best Dissertation in Technical and Scientific Communication Award in 2005. I have mined less than half of her CV to compile this citation but we still have a conference to participate in today.

Rachel, by elevating you to the status of Fellow of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing, we acknowledge and thank you for your exemplary contributions in teaching, research, and service in our field.

Citation for Barbara Couture

Elevated to ATTW Fellow March 2010
(Written by Jerry Savage)

The Fellows Selection Committee of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing today elevates Barbara Couture to the rank of Fellow.

It would require half the day to do justice to Barbara Couture’s accomplishments and her contributions to our field and to higher education. Many of us know her especially for her scholarship. Author or editor of six books and author or co-author of well over 30 articles and book chapters, Barbara has received the 2000 CCCC Outstanding Book Award for her book Toward Phenomenological Rhetoric: Writing, Profession, and Altruism as well as the NCTE Award for Excellence in Technical and Scientific Communication for her 1985 book, co-authored with Jone Rymer, Cases for Technical and Professional Writing. She also received the 1992 NCTE award for best article reporting formal research in technical and scientific communication for “Discourse Interaction between Writer and Supervisor: A Primary Collaboration in Workplace Writing,” which appeared in the award winning essay collection edited by Mary Lay and Bill Karis, Collaborative Writing in Industry.

Barbara began her career as a high school English teacher in Livonia, Michigan. She quickly advanced to English Department chair and then to Vice Principal in Livonia Public Schools. After completing her Doctor of Arts at University of Michigan she spent 14 years at Wayne State University as a professor and in increasingly advanced administrative roles, including internship coordinator, Director of Composition, and two associate dean positions. From Wayne State, Barbara moved to Washington State University where she served as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts for six years, then on to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she was Senior Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs until December 2009.

Throughout a career of simultaneously teaching, educational administration, and extraordinary scholarship, Barbara has also held positions of service on four editorial boards-two of which she continues to hold today. She has won millions of dollars in grants, appropriations, and foundation support for such projects as development of programs for female faculty in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, funding for support of Native American students and Native American studies, funding for support of teacher education in the liberal arts, for public policy and public service programming, and numerous smaller grants for writing research. She has presented 40 invited lectures, seminars, or addresses nationally and internationally and served as a reviewer, mentor, referee, conference chair, examiner, and consultant in over 50 national contexts.

We could well suppose that her elevation to ATTW Fellow might be the occasion for also congratulating Barbara on a well-earned retirement, consider her December resignation as Vice Chancellor at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. However, I have not yet mentioned her most recent move. In January this year, Barbara became President of New Mexico State University.

In elevating Barbara Couture to 2010 Fellow in the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing, we congratulate her and wish her well in her newest role, and we thank her for her extraordinary contributions as a teacher, scholar, and advocate for higher education and for the field of technical communication.