The Promise and Peril of Writing Program Administration reads like the archive of an historical moment: a generation of jWPAs who were trained enough to know what to do, but still find themselves flummoxed.
So, while it incorporates many resistant voices, this collection primarily accepts the reality of jWPA work and attempts to discuss several important conditions around it, including issues of what a jWPA is; what motivates individuals to pursue WPA work; how jWPA work may be different from advanced WPA work; what good might come out of jWPA positions; and how jWPAs should be trained and protected.
Taken together, these texts both remind us of the challenging circumstances that jWPAs face, as well as the unavoidable trend of untenured faculty working as writing program administrators.
Credibility and authority, then, are likewise important resources because they allow jWPAs to make decisions and take action in a more efficient manner.
A second area full of potential mine fields for jWPAs is that of institutional politics.
Even if they can anticipate these potential pitfalls, most jWPAs recognize the market forces that play out in their lives: They do not always have the ultimate choice of whether or not to engage in WPA work.
As a result, jWPAs often find their energies split: Do they prioritize their programs, or their research agendas?
Finally, even for those jWPAs who survive the early years of their positions, there continue to be a variety of frustrations, leading many jWPAs to experience low job satisfaction.
In response to the stories and conclusions offered in these two books, I believe that what each of us as jWPAs needs to do is to consider our situations and the possible strategies available to us and to determine which aspects of our jobs we can change and which we cannot.
To begin with, here are a few things that jWPAs may not necessarily control: job titles and descriptions, course release time, staff hiring, curriculum adoption, administrative support, and budget.
1) Know your context: One important way that jWPAs can help themselves is to research their own contexts, including program histories and institutional politics and their respective roles within them.