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In our increasing visual society, it sometimes seems as if the importance of writing is being ignored at a dangerous level.
Writing is the primary basis upon which your work, your learning, and your intellect will be judged—in college, in the workplace, and in the community. Writing expresses who you are as a person. Writing is portable and permanent. It makes your thinking visible. Writing helps you move easily among facts, inferences, and opinions without getting confused—and without confusing your reader. Writing promotes your ability to pose worthwhile questions. --From, What Makes Writing So Important? Marquette University
The College of Idaho will create a new chair that further enhances its long-standing strength in developing students’ clarity of thought and writing thanks to a bequest from an anonymous donor.
The Berringer Chair in Writing and Rhetoric will honor legendary C of I English professor Ralph Berringer, who taught at the C of I in the 1950s and 1960s and helped invigorate the intellectual life of the College following World War II.

C of I President Marv Henberg noted that Berringer’s dedication to his students remains an inspiration today.

“Professor Berringer clearly recognized that the kind of liberal arts learning that distinguishes The College of Idaho depends upon a spirit of collaboration and connected learning across the disciplines,” Henberg said. “Accordingly, the Berringer Chair aims to establish comprehensive support for learning and teaching related to writing and rhetoric.”
The bequest, which has not yet been realized, will provide support for a faculty chair who will coordinate all aspects of the College’s writing program, for the establishment of a writing center to support student writers, and for campus-wide celebrations of writing.

The new writing center will enable well-trained student tutors to help their fellow students think through their writing and provide additional assistance to the College’s growing contingent of international students, who currently make up 10 percent of the student body.

President Henberg noted that the fully-funded faculty chair will support faculty from various disciplines who are teaching writing-intensive courses and work to strengthen the professional writing skills of students. Guest workshops and readings by renowned writers as well as events showcasing the writing of students also will be supported through the bequest.
Berringer came to the C of I in 1953 and taught until his death in 1963. His courses in Shakespeare and the development of the English language were favorites of students at the College, and he instituted a program of radio presentations in which C of I students performed broadcast versions of plays on campus and on local radio stations. Students also looked forward to his annual satirical skit, “Black Masque,” a send up of the dramatic club, Scarlet Masque, that featured some of his fellow professors dressed in bunny suits among other comic bits.

The Marquette article quoted above continues:

Writing fosters your ability to explain a complex position to readers, and to yourself. Writing helps others give you feedback. Writing helps you refine your ideas when you give others feedback. requires that you anticipate your readers’ needs. Your ability to do so demonstrates your intellectual flexibility and maturity. Writing ideas down preserves them so that you can reflect upon them later.
Writing is an essential job skill.

And the piece points out how writing out ideas permits students to evaluate the adequacy of an argument. It stimulates them to extend a line of thought beyond first impressions or gut responses.  The practice helps writers understand how truth is established in a given discipline. It equips students the communication and thinking skills needed to participate effectively in democracy.

The obsession with one-click, soundbytes and 24-Hour commercials disguised as news has permeated much of modern discourse. Thus, I am pleased that the College of Idaho has taken on this important initiative to promote higher order thinking.

Here is the link to the original press release:

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