2013: Stuart Selber and Bruce Maylath

At the 2013 Annual Conference in Las Vegas, NV, ATTW elevated two members to the rank of Fellow:

  • Stuart Selber (Penn State University)
  • Bruce Maylath (North Dakota State University)

The citations for each are included below.

Citation for Stuart Selber

Elevated to ATTW Fellow March 2013

(Written by Jerry Savage)

Dear Professor Selber:

By elevating you to Fellow, the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing recognizes your many contributions to our disciplinary knowledge, our pedagogy, our practice, and our professional organizations. Your publications have earned seven national awards, beginning with NCTE’s award for Best Article on Methods of Teaching Technical Communication in 1995, just a year after you received your Ph.D. Your service has earned you CPTSC’s Distinguished Service Award and the ACM Service Award.

You have served as president and vice president of ATTW, president of CPTSC, and chair of the CCCC Committee on Technical Communication. You have served on the editorial boards of most of the leading journals in technical communication and composition studies. You have been a judge for five publication awards or competitions. You have taught at six universities and served on 16 dissertation committees, including those of such illustrious scholars as Adam Banks, Jordynn Jack, and Marika Seigel.

But the real significance of your career is best expressed by those who have worked most closely with you. Cynthia Selfe says:

When Stuart Selber came into my office at Michigan Tech to introduce himself in 1990, I thought he was joking. His first request was for readings he could do before any classes started, before most students had even arrived at MTU. He seemed utterly nonplussed as I started pulling books from my shelf and piling them up on the desk, a hefty pile of theoretical tomes, a tall stack of books on technical communication, a towering mountain on digital media. Stuart and every one of those wretched books came back to haunt me in the days to come—he appeared in my classes and at my office door every other day or so, each time with questions, arguments, comments, and observations that were both keen and insightful, incisive and cogent.

I also noticed something odd about Stuart—he knew how to pick winners in every aspect of his life. During his time at Michigan Tech, he met and fell in love with his wife Kate Latterell, another gem among the Michigan Tech graduate students, when she was also finishing her Ph.D. And he quickly became friends with quite an unlikely character, Johndan Johnson Eilola—a prankster in the image of Ken Kesey and Hunter S. Thompson—who became a long time collaborator with Stuart, forming a wickedly smart and productive team that has continued to shape the field of technical communication today, editing groundbreaking collections like Central Works in Technical Communication and Solving Problems in Technical Communication, and influencing our thinking about plagiarism and assemblage, commons-based pedagogies, and graduate education in technical communication. In addition to his work with Johndan, Stuart has written as an independent scholar and professional leader, a stand out in this profession. Stuart is, in short, the very best our profession has to offer, and I will always be proud to have worked with him. 

1997 ATTW Fellow, Jack Selzer says:

I’ve always been a very lucky person, and part of my professional good fortune involves Stuart Selber. First, I had the great good fortune to be selected as an ATTW Fellow before Stuart came along—I never would have made it if I had come after him. Second, I get to see Stuart frequently, get to work with him in all kinds of ways, read his work and continually learn from him: a continuing professional blessing. In particular my teaching has been transformed by my engagements with him, and his patience with my efforts to electrify my classes has made me willing to take chances that have led to continuing professional growth. ATTW is an organization of teachers, and I'm one of a great many, here at Penn State and across the profession, whose teaching is better because of Stuart Selber.

And yet when I think of Stuart, it’s the more personal characteristics that I think of. Stuart's personal integrity is as impressive and as unwavering as his professional integrity; what he is as a professional is what he is as a person. He can be counted on when the chips are down, and everyone in the Penn State English department looks up to his example and his advice. He’s got 100% dependability and unwavering generosity; you can trust him to be there, and trust him to tell the truth every time, even when maybe you don’t want to hear it. His unfailing good sense and practical wisdom are taken for granted here, so you can go to him for advice and depend on it to be informed and intelligent, honest and savvy. No wonder he's pretty much the ideal parent to his sons: watching Kate and Stuart's boys grow up has been a privilege. (It's been pretty funny, too.)

Stuart’s former student, Adam Banks, comments:

I have been impressed and influenced by both the quality and consistency of Professor Selber's contributions to scholarship in technical and professional communication—indeed, I see his work over the years as a crucial link in bringing T&PC and composition into greater conversation and collaboration. His scholarship matches who he is in the classroom: nuanced, thoughtful, committed; able to think in careful ways about both big picture developments and the programmatic or implementation challenges that make those theoretical issues real. I am glad to have been a student of his and thrilled to see him receive this high honor from his peers.

The last word must come from Stuart’s long-time friend and collaborator, Johndan Johnson-Eilola. When I mentioned the names of the others who were providing tributes, Johndan replied, “I got way more dirt than they do.” He says:

Stuart brings out the best in anyone he works with—students, colleagues, even administrators. I've known and worked alongside Stuart for something like twenty-five years. We have known each other since we shared an office and a much-battered Macintosh IIC as grad students at Michigan Tech. Like many of you, I can attest first-hand to Stuart's qualities as a teacher, thinker, writer, and friend. Stuart has pushed the envelope not just for himself but for the field as a whole.

As the years rolled by, we've traded parenting tips, advice on retirement plans and real estate. We've had—I'm not making this up—a long running, fairly intense pissing match about which of us owns more books. (I do.) We still collaborate today, sending drafts back and forth over the internet, bickering over Skype now, a little older, maybe a little wiser.

 I remember a conference presentation in which Stuart laid out a clear set of pedagogical goals for PhD students in technical communication: expertise in writing, visual design, interaction design, usability testing, ethics, psychology… the list went on. At the end of the presentation there was an uncomfortable silence until someone asked, somewhat desperately, "How can we cover all of that?" Stuart looked puzzled and said, simply, "We have to."

That's been Stuart's approach to every challenge: Running conferences, writing articles and books, editing collections, leading professional organizations like ATTW. I can't even count the number of times I've looked at him when we were deep in the weeds on some out-of-control project and said, "We can't do this." His response has always been along the lines of that "We have to." I think Stuart's great success has been 1/3 smarts and 2/3 bullheaded stubbornness. 

"We have to." Clearly it's a successful motto. I won't run through the long list of honors and awards that follow Stuart around; his elevation to ATTW Fellow is the well-deserved latest. I'm sure a lot of people here have stood in front of the room with Stuart handing him a plaque or framed certificate. Congratulations, Stuart. Wooly-bully.

Citation for Bruce Maylath

Elevated to ATTW Fellow March 2013

Written by
Dan Riordan
Fellow, ATTW
Distinguished Service Award, CPTSC
Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Stout

In the twenty years since Bruce Maylath earned his PhD at the University of Minnesota, he has made an indelible mark on the field of Technical Communication, on the universities he has served, and on thousands of students not just in his classes but in the classes of colleagues throughout the world.

Bruce’s achievements include books, articles and presentations in which he has commented extensively on linguistics, rhetoric, translation, and organizational structure of programs. Through his work with translation and global collaboration he has opened for us the value and power of seeing ourselves as agents in the international arena. His best-known book chapters appear in Carolyn Rude’s Technical Editing, 3rd & 4th eds., and Deborah S. Bosley’s Global Contexts: Case Studies in International Technical Communication. Books he has co-edited include Approaches to Teaching Non-Native English Speakers across the Curriculum (Jossey-Bass, 1997); Language Awareness: A History and Implementations (Amsterdam University Press, 2000); and Revisiting the Past through Rhetorics of Memory and Amnesia (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010). Other publications appear in the Journal for Business and Technical CommunicationIEEE-Transactions on Professional Communication, Technical Communication Quarterly, Research in the Teaching of English, and numerous other journals and books. In addition through his work he has exemplified, by co-authoring and co-editing many of his publications, the meaning of collaboration.

Bruce has served at University of Memphis, University of Wisconsin-Stout, and since 2007 North Dakota State University. At the University of Wisconsin-Stout, he helped implement the university’s Technical Communication program and served as its first director, virtually inventing all aspects of the program at a quality level which quickly attracted students from the region. At NDSU he has served as the international technical communication specialist and linguist. At all three universities, Bruce has taught a wide range of courses from first-year to advanced linguistics and technical communication courses. At those universities Bruce has served on committees, obtained grants, delivered local presentations on teaching and been a source of inspiration and innovation for colleagues.

Both at UW-Stout and NDSU Bruce has developed an innovative approach that brings together students in the U.S. and various European countries. While other groups have spent millions to create cumbersome courses to reach global markets, Bruce has developed global courses by employing the ease and effectiveness of email and the web. Using both media he created the Trans-Atlantic Project—partnerships with other professors in Denmark, Austria, Belgium, France, and Italy. With those professors he created international student teams who created their projects in a person-to-person global context. Furthermore, he has recruited other faculty members who have set up their own international student teams.

In addition Bruce led ATTW and our sister organization CPTSC (of which he was president from 2002-2004) to embrace an international perspective. He helped establish the London 2000 roundtable, one of the first international meetings, and has continued his leadership with other roundtables, in Milan in 2003, Limerick in 2005, Montreal in 2008 and in Eschede, the Netherlands, in 2010.

Bruce’s commitment to students is reflected in the awards they have bestowed on him. At NDSU he received the Vogel Teaching Award from the Department of English in 2007 and in 2012 he received honorable mention as an Outstanding Teacher from the NDSU College of Arts, Humanities, & Social Sciences.

His work extends beyond traditional boundaries of technical communication. He took the lead in bringing to NDSU a Dakota elder who teaches Dakota language and culture. He assisted regional Dakota tribal members to bring to print translations of letters written by Dakota prisoners in the 1860s. He has worked with the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota Language Summit, the Red River Conference on World Literature, and the Languages and Cultures Circle of Manitoba and North Dakota. He has worked with ESL programs, Writing Across the Curriculum (focusing at one point on dentistry), Laptop integration into the classroom, writing centers, Norwegian language, and project-based learning.

The field of technical communication, the universities he has served, and the students he has mentored have benefited from the leadership and service of Dr. Bruce Maylath. His work, his leadership, his vision have altered the way we conceive of ourselves as professionals, as teachers and as servant-leaders. We welcome him to the rank of Fellow of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing, and look forward to years of his calling us to become ever more than we imagined we could be.

Statements of Support

A. Dale Sullivan, North Dakota State University

Many of us remember Bruce Maylath as the planner of the CPTSC conference at the University of Wisconsin Stout in the late 1990s. It was a great conference, and some of us remember that Michigan Tech brought enough graduate students that year so that they could have carried a vote at the business meeting without support from anyone else. We traveled along the Mississippi, hoping to see the swans come in, walking trails, marveling at the beauty of the bluffs.

When I was department head of Rhetoric at the University of Minnesota, Bruce proved himself to be a good friend, meeting with me during some difficult times.

A few years later, we had an opening on our faculty at North Dakota State University. I had found out that Bruce might be on the market that year, so I argued with my dean and another dean, who felt entitled to have a say, that we had the opportunity to go after one of the most respected teacher/researchers in international technical communication. I won that argument, and we began courting Bruce. Perhaps it was Bruce's affection for cities that border Minnesota, perhaps it was the chance to help shape our emerging program, perhaps it was a chance to teach linguistics courses for us, or to develop a new course in technical communication-whatever it was, we succeeded in getting Bruce to join our faculty as a Professor of English.

Since then, he has established a strong reputation locally. His linguistic courses are sought after by undergraduate and graduate students alike. He serves as an activist representative to our labor union, the NDPEA. He has been on more than one search committee, including the committee that brought a new dean of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences to NDSU, Kent Sandstrom, and a committee that brought us an excellent colleague in English Education, Kelly Sassi, who had several offers the year she went on the market. He is busy with department and college committees, and has emerged as a local leader at North Dakota State University.

Continuing his work partnering teachers in the US with teachers in Europe, Bruce has enlisted several of our own teachers in this program and continues to work with others.

Finally, Bruce took the lead in our effort to bring Clifford Canku to NDSU. Clifford is an elder from the Sisseton-Whapeton Dakota Reservation in South Dakota. With Bruce's guidance and hard work, Clifford has been hired as a professor of practice and teaches Dakota language, Dakota history, and Dakota religion and culture. Again with Bruce's help, Clifford and his co-editors are bringing out a new book that collects letters written by Dakota prisoners in the 1860s, both in their original Dakota language and in translation.

I'm sure if you find time to talk with Bruce, he will be happy to fill you in on any of these projects, for, as we all know, Bruce is not timid when it comes to sharing. I admire Bruce and I am indebted to him. He is certainly a colleague who gives himself in service.

B. Deborah C. (Debby) Andrews, University of Delaware

From wherever he is based, now North Dakota, Bruce thinks and lives internationally. He has been a major force in cajoling such organizations as CPTSC and ATTW to also embrace an international perspective. The London 2000 roundtable he helped implement was an excellent example, the first meeting of CPTSC and ATTW outside the US. Appropriately, sessions occurred both in a classroom and in a nearby pub; Bruce has long understood the intellectual, social, and culinary dimensions of scholarship and teaching.

At the roundtable, he proposed a concept of exchanges among students (and faculty) in the US and Europe that has expanded into his current Transatlantic Project. Bruce leads as a collaborator, widening the circle of teachers and students from around the world who engage together to improve the transaction between writer, text, and reader.

C. Doreen Starke-Meyerring, McGill University

Bruce was one of the first colleagues I turned to when I was looking for innovative models of teaching in our field that addressed emerging trends toward the globalization of higher education. What he described to me provided not only hope, but also an important source of inspiration: While mainstream institutional globalization strategies at the time largely reproduced local four-walled classroom courses online for delivery in so-called global markets and poured millions of dollars into their marketing, Bruce was working quietly from the grassroots to build global networks connecting students and teachers from around the world, showing us that we all have a lot to learn from and with each other. And while most of those multi-million dollar online marketing portals have since folded down, Bruce's networks have continued to thrive and to provide innovative learning experiences for thousands of students in our field and beyond. I think that says a lot about Bruce and his commitment to inspiring leadership among his colleagues, and it says a lot about his commitment to and his impact on our field.