Rhetoric and Writing | College of Liberal Arts
skip to content The University of Texas at Austin

Mission & Values

Our Mission

The Department of Rhetoric and Writing (DRW) was established to provide excellent writing instruction for undergraduates at UT-Austin. That core mission has not changed, but, as the unit has matured, other complementary goals have emerged:

  • To provide superb training and support for all assistant instructors -- graduate students who teach our writing courses.
  • To provide best-in-the nation professional preparation for future scholars, administrators, teachers, and professionals in rhetoric/composition and writing-related fields.
  • To be a national leader in mapping and transforming the relationships among writing, rhetoric, and technology.
  • To be a national leader in raising standards for public and professional discourse, reaching out in particular to teachers in elementary and secondary education.

Our Values

The DRW is proud of being an independent writing program with a national profile. As a unit within a research institution, we appreciate the opportunities we enjoy and the expectations that follow. We hire, tenure, and promote faculty on the basis of outstanding scholarship, teaching, and service. We staff our courses primarily with regular faculty and fully trained graduate students, a circumstance increasingly rare in American higher education. As a faculty, we affirm the following professional values:

  • Rhetoric and instruction in writing belong within the liberal arts tradition.
  • Teaching writing effectively requires professional status and disciplinary training.
  • Writing can be taught well using a variety of methods, theories, and technologies. There is no one right way.
  • Professional issues need to be discussed frequently and fairly -- and without acrimony or repercussions.
  • Policies of the DRW should be set by a well-informed, engaged faculty following established procedures.
  • A strong sense of community is desirable among all working in the DRW -- regular faculty, assistant instructors, staff, and students.
  • Faculty should design and teach courses that reflect their professional interests and strengths.
  • We have a responsibility to offer routinely any courses our students will need in an RHE minor or major.

Statement on Climate

At the Department of Rhetoric and Writing, we are unambiguous in our commitment to fostering a respectful professional and educational climate. We recognize that this climate arises from the contributions of everyone who participates in the department as students, staff, faculty, administrators, speakers, and campus guests. We also recognize that departmental members can have multiple roles and we commit to cultivating a climate that respects all of our members across different sites, including the classrooms, labs, offices, and off-campus locations where we learn, teach, and socialize together.

Additionally, we uphold the university’s core values and nondiscrimination policy through accountable decision-making and governance, leadership with open lines of communication about climate, training on professional standards, and clear policies for addressing misconduct.

It is vital to maintain a climate for preventing and eliminating misconduct and to support anyone who experiences misconduct in this professional and educational environment. To that end, we continually seek and put in place best practices to build an inclusive departmental structure and community. Our goal in fostering a climate based on mutual respect is to ensure that everyone who labors and learns here can thrive, regardless of their current role or status in the department.

This climate statement is a living document that expresses our values and practices. We invite anyone with questions or concerns about departmental climate to contact the Chair and Associate Chair of the DRW.