Brittain Fellowship History

During the 1987-1988 academic year, A.D. Van Nostrand, then chair of Georgia Tech`s English Department, began the process of reinventing writing and technical communication at Georgia Tech. Prior to this date, the English Department had hired advanced graduate students who had reached ABD status–that is, all but dissertation, to teach freshman English composition courses. These graduate students served as adjunct faculty members who filled the need that existed within Georgia Tech`s English Department while gaining important teaching experience. Although this was common practice across disciplines during this period, Dr. Nostrand recognized that due to the transient nature of these appointments, adjunct faculty members were not the best resources for students. Instead he envisioned a program that would embed writing into the intellectual identity of students for the rest of their lives. Nostrand recognized the need for more uniformity between composition courses and mandated adjunct faculty attendance at professional development seminars.

In 1987, Elizabeth Evans became the first Director of The Marion L. Brittain Fellowship, named for the third President of Georgia Institute of Technology. Under her direction, the postdoctoral fellowship program garnered collective recognition for the ABD and postdoctoral fellows while providing the writing program with better accountability and more structure. At this time Brittain Fellows also received full-time appointments with benefits. Most fellows were hired for a period of three quarters with the possibility of working during the summer as well, which created better continuity within the program. Two years later, in 1989, Dr. Greg Colomb received a regular faculty appointment to direct the Writing Program at Georgia Tech with responsibility for the further development of the Brittain Fellowship Program.

In 1990, Dr. Charles Bazerman was hired in a tenure-track faculty appointment as Director of the Writing Program. His expertise brought a shift toward emphasis on technical communication within the LMC. Dr. Wendy Newstetter, Dr. Carol Senf, and Dr. Blake Leland followed Bazerman as Coordinators of the Brittain Fellowship. Then in 2000, Jay Bolter became the Brittain Fellowship Program Coordinator and Director of the Writing Program. His appointment symbolized the union of computer technology and communication, and the introduction of electronic pedagogy.

Most recently, in 2007, LMC brought aboard Dr. Rebecca Burnett as Director of the Writing and Communication Program at Georgia Tech. As a champion of rhetoric, process, and multimodality in composition, business and technical communication, and communication across the curriculum, Burnett is the best expression of the evolution of writing and communication at Georgia Tech. Under Burnett’s leadership and role as a change agent, the Writing and Communication Program is spreading a culture of communication across Georgia Tech.

Director

2007-present Dr. Rebecca E. Burnett
2004-2007 Dr. Jay Bolter

Associate Director

2012-present Dr. Andy Frazee
2011-2012 Dr. Robin Wharton (title: Assistant Director)
2008-2011 Dr. L. Andrew Cooper (title: Assistant Director)
2007-2008 Dr. L. Andrew Cooper (title: Coordinator)
2004-2007 Dr. Karen Head (title: Coordinator)

Assistant Director

2015-present Dr. Monica Miller (Brittain Fellow)
2013-2015 Dr. Lisa Dusenberry
2012-2013 Dr. James Gregory

Assessment Coordinator

2014-present Dr. Patricia Taylor (Brittain Fellow)

The history of the Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellowship reflects the evolution of American academia. Today, Brittain Fellows serve for between one and three academic years. For the most part, Brittain Fellows teach English 1101 and 1102, but they may also teach some higher-level LMC courses, especially during summer sessions. In addition, Brittain Fellows teach LMC 3403, a course in technical communication that is a signature of the Writing and Communication Program. LMC 3403 represents an even greater evolution that has occurred within the department. While the fellowship started out as a way to address a range of needs within the institution, it has developed into a prominent center for research in the evolving forms of writing and communication both within the institution and nationally.

In the spring of 2008, the program gained support and recognition when the Naval ROTC building was named the new home for Georgia Tech's Writing and Communication Program. Named the Stephen C. Hall Building in honor of the generosity of the donors, Colonel Stephen C. Hall and Mrs. Pamela Hall, the renovated building (designated as a LEED Gold renovation) now includes demonstration classrooms, offices, a DevLab, a recording booth, collaborative workspaces, and a large commons area—for activities including film screenings, guest speakers, panel discussions, small conferences and un-conferences, orientation sessions, and social events.