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Over the past year, Patricia Donahue, professor of English and director of the College Writing Program, has spent time with colleagues from colleges and universities in the United States and Australia investigating new ways to teach, learn, and conduct research.

She completed a 10-day residency at Stanford University in June as part of the Carnegie Scholars program sponsored by the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

The session, the third in the 2003-2004 program, brought together faculty members in a variety of disciplines, offering them office space, library resources, and the opportunity to learn from each other in a “community of scholars.”

“We spent 10 hours or more a day thinking, talking, arguing, reading, writing, and listening to lectures,” Donahue says, explaining that each Carnegie Scholar worked on a project in a smaller group. “We were responsible for presenting versions of our projects in their various stages. My project explored student perceptions of the ‘work’ of reading and writing, and intellectual ‘work’ in general.”

For Donahue, who joined the Lafayette faculty in 1985 and founded its Comprehensive Writing Program a year later, the experience has been powerful, invigorating, and life changing.

“Over the next couple of years, I hope to bring to campus several Carnegie Scholars from various disciplines to talk in general about the goals of the scholarship of teaching and learning, their specific projects in particular, and how this work has reinvigorated their scholarship, their teaching, and their perceptions of themselves as professionals,” she says.

Donahue also hopes to use her findings in courses and in programs for faculty whose courses are affiliated with the College Writing Program, which helps integrate the practice of writing into courses throughout all four of the College’s divisions.

“I hope to bring the ‘work’ of reading and writing into closer alignment through the device of the writing assignment,” she says.

Over the past 18 years, Donahue has helped shape the College Writing Program and its predecessor, the Comprehensive Writing Program, at first training and assigning the student “writing associates” who assist their fellow students in completing writing assignments, then taking on an administrative role as the program grew to include a coordinator, two assistant directors, more than 50 writing associates, 750 participating students, and 50 participating faculty members.

Karen Cera ’95, who earned a B.A. with majors in English and art, says she took Donahue’s seminar in literary critical theory and realized she’d found her mentor.

“Pat pulled the love for literature, reading, and writing from me on a level that I could understand, pushed me to take it further, and worked with everything I had to offer,” says Cera, now senior manager of digital technologies and design for Time Warner AudioBooks. “The remarkable thing about Pat is that she exemplifies what she teaches. I’ve seen her grow as an educator, as a friend, as a wife, as a daughter, as a person. She doesn’t sit and wait for growth to happen to her. She not only believes in me, but she believes in herself and what she does. A teacher who cares like that right down to the middle of her own heart is the best kind of teacher to have.”


Publications:The Elements and Pleasures of Difficulty with Mariolina Salvatori, Allyn & Bacon/Longman Publishers, forthcoming December 2004; “The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in English Studies,” Disciplinary Styles in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Mary Huber, ed., 2003.

Honors: Marquis Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1998.

Achievements: Carnegie Scholar, 2003-04; Associate English department head, named 2004; Mid-Atlantic delegate to the MLA Editorial Board, 2002-03.

Contact: (610) 330-5242;

Categorized in: Academic News