2016: Brenda R. Sims and Bill Hart-Davidson

Citation for Brenda R. Sims

Elevated to ATTW Fellow April 6, 2016

On this day, April 6, 2016, I am very pleased to elevate Brenda R. Sims to Fellow of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing. With your elevation, Brenda, we recognize you for your advocacy and mentorship in the field and for your many years of dedicated service to our organization.

You have been a quiet and calming force in ATTW for more than twenty years, first appointed Executive Secretary in 1995. Your dedication and service to the organization have been exemplary. You have worked tirelessly to maintain our data and records and to support upwards of ten presidents and executive committees. While members recognize you from years of staffing the registration table, the majority of the work you have completed for ATTW has been invisible: you have maintained membership rolls, digitized archives, published minutes, purchased supplies for registration packets, ordered and delivered awards, arrived early to prepare the rooms and registration tables, and stayed late to assist at the annual executive meeting. Those of us who have rotated through the executive committee recognize the gifts of time and energy you have gladly given to our organization. You have used your knowledge of ATTW and organizational skills to help the Association remain strong. Most importantly, you have added a human touch through your consideration and recognition of the contributions of all who have served ATTW during your tenure.

Your national service and leadership has extended beyond our organization as well. You have reviewed for our field’s major journals and refereed our national conference programs. You have served on NCTE committees, and you chaired the NCTE Awards in Technical and Scientific Communication from 2001-2008. You are the author of three books, including Technical Communication, which is in its 3rd edition, as well as multiple articles on technical communication, cross-cultural communication, and ethics. All of this service you completed while building a technical communication program at your home institution, the University of North Texas (UNT). Beginning as a lecturer in 1986, you rose through the ranks to Professor and served as Director of Technical Writing and Director of Graduate Studies in the English Department at UNT. In 2008 under your leadership, the Technical Writing Program at UNT formed the Department of Linguistics and Technical Communication. You continued your leadership in this department in 2014 when it became the Department of Technical Communication. As Professor and Founding Chair of this department, you served on multiple councils, committees, and workgroups. You served on the Chairs’ Council, co-chaired the Faculty Workload Policy Workgroup, served as the College of Arts and Science’s Diversity Representative, and chaired the Corporate Academic Partners Committee, to name a few. In all of these positions, you have continuously promoted the profession and built visibility and respect for technical communication.

Your efforts in this regard—to build visibility and respect for technical communication—are also evident in your consulting and outreach activities. As any student who has taken a class from you will say, you know what is happening in the field, not because you have read about trends but because you are creating them. You have worked for companies as diverse as Frito Lay North America, XTO Energy, SBC Communications (including Southwestern Bell Telephone), Nokia, and Balfour Beatty Construction as well as the Cities of Denton, Carrollton, and Garland. As a consultant, you have resolved communication challenges affecting customer service and improved employees’ technical communication skills. You have developed and delivered workshops on topics ranging from workplace culture and ethics to business communication and presentations. In the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, you are recognized as the expert on technical communication in industry, and you bring this expertise to every position you hold. Your high profile at your home institution and within industry has most recently earned you the position of Director of the University of North Texas’ New College at Frisco. You were selected for the position, according to UNT, because you “[are] recognized as a leader in innovative education that prepares students for the workplace. [You] uniquely [provide] students opportunities to learn ‘beyond the walls’ by engaging with industry professionals.”

This tribute would be remiss if it did not recognize your strength and leadership as a mentor to those of us who have worked closely with you. From a personal perspective, I have gained from your advice and good sense on many occasions as I have struggled to make decisions about my own career path. You have always generously offered direction when asked. Others of us have benefitted from your mentorship as well. Former graduate student, Carie Tucker King, wrote: “As an instructor, Dr. Sims challenged me in relevant and uncompromising ways. You pushed me hard—to learn more, dream more, and be more.” You have that way: You listen, you consider, and then you offer a perspective that makes the pathway clearer and easier to find. Whatever your role—teacher, administrator, or consultant—you are a model for what an excellent technical communicator should be.

Brenda, it is my great honor and pleasure at this time to elevate you to Fellow in the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing.


Citation for Bill Hart-Davidson 

Elevated to ATTW Fellow April 6, 2016

On this day, April 6, 2016, I am honored to elevate Bill Hart-Davidson to Fellow of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing. With your elevation, Bill, we recognize you for your many contributions to our organization and for changing our field for the better through the high quality and strong positive impact of your research and publications. We also recognize you as a valued and respected contributor, collaborator, and colleague. Few colleagues have consistently been as kind and generous with others as you have been, and your conduct as a professional is to be admired and emulated.

You have been a highly valued and respected contributor to the scholarship of our field since you were a graduate student. You have engaged our field’s perspectives on content management, technology, and the changing roles of technical communicators. The impact of your research is extensive. You have given us insights into the work of technical and professional communication practitioners, exploring knowledge work and its many facets: digital writing and review, organizational writing, content management, project management, collaboration, and workstreams, to name a few. Included among this research is your article “Content Management in the Workplace: Community, Context, and a New Way to Organize Writing,” which won the 2013 CCCC award for Best Article Reporting Qualitative or Quantitative Research in Technical or Scientific Communication. Your cutting-edge, pioneering perspectives of technology have provided critical insight and clarity for our field during an era of rapid and often chaotic change in industry. In addition to your workplace research, you have provided academics with insight into the research needs of industry and encouraged us to bridge the academic-industry divide. Your scholarship has also informed us in how best to prepare our students so that they are ready to perform knowledge work upon graduation. Most recently, your collection Rhetoric and the Digital Humanities has asked us to consider how we can “[build] interdisciplinary discussions between rhetorical studies and [digital humanities] by defining shared research trajectories, methods, and projects” (2014, p.9). Whether you are reporting on the needs of practitioners or encouraging academics to be better researchers or teachers, your scholarship has influenced our field and those of us who work within it.

As a professor in Michigan State University’s Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, you have developed, participated in, and led the Computational Rhetoric research cluster. You have served as Senior Researcher and Past Director in WIDE (Writing, Information, and Digital Experience), a Research Center in the College of Arts and Letters, and as WIDE Senior Researcher in MATRIX, the Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences. In addition to your own scholarship, the research cluster and these two centers have contributed dozens of collaboratively and individually written publications to the field. Working with your fellow inventors, you created ELIReview, co-founded Drawbridge, and have applied for multiple patents. Your scholarship is remarkable because you use it not only to inform but also to innovate and create. No summary of your scholarship this brief can do justice to your intellectual contributions because they are so outstanding for their expanse and diversity of thought.

While your record demonstrates your contributions as a scholar and collaborator, it also shows that this excellence extends to your teaching and mentoring. Over the years, you have chaired over a dozen dissertations and sat on over two dozen dissertation committees. In 2009, as a member of the ATTW Research Committee, you helped to organize our first annual research workshops, which have since influenced scholars and graduate students across the country and the world. Through this work, you have assisted with mentoring many technical communication scholars.

Your record of service as a leader in the field and within your institution is equally stellar. You have served ATTW for over a decade in many capacities. You were the conference program chair in 2009, and you have held leadership positions within the organization since then, serving as member-at-large, vice president, president, and past president. You have volunteered for many committee assignments and roles that have helped to move the organization forward. These roles have all addressed timely and important needs of the organization. You have always been available whenever there has been a challenge or opportunity that has needed our attention. Your leadership is further evident at your home institution, where you have served as Director of Graduate Studies, as Associate Chairperson for the Department of Writing Rhetoric & American Cultures, and as co-Director of WIDE. Currently you serve as Associate Dean for Graduate Education in the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State.

For these many accomplishments and contributions, we are grateful. Your scholarship is a model for the field, and your generosity of spirit has touched and inspired all of us who have worked with you. Please accept this honor and our hearty congratulations, Bill, on your elevation to Fellow in the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing.