Martinson Award Application

Call for Applications

June 16, 2018 Deadline


The Martinson Award recognizes an innovative and successful initiative in a writing program or writing center from a SLAC-WPA member college. The award was created to honor the accomplishments of our colleague Deborah Martinson, who passed away in 2014. Deb was an active, engaged member of SLACWPA; she hosted our annual conference, served on the executive board, and built and supported writing communities within and beyond our organization. Deb was known among her colleagues, both at Occidental College and in the larger community for her boundless spirit, her insight and intelligence, and her wisecracking sense of humor.

In the span of her career, Deb created a pedagogy focused on inclusive practices and resistance to the status quo in higher education. As a high school teacher, she inspired many of her students to attend college and graduate school in English and Rhetoric-Composition. She earned her Ph. in English Literature at USC, focusing on literature and autobiography. She arrived at Occidental College in 1991 and immediately began developing the writing program’s curriculum. She was widely known at Occidental for building cross-disciplinary support for writing instruction and innovative pedagogies, for which she was recognized with the Tod and Linda White Teaching Prize. Deb’s work in writing program design and support was also influential across small liberal arts colleges beyond Occidental, and many of us continue to feel that influence.

Her simultaneous dedication to both writing program design and writing instruction that helps students overcome academic barriers characterizes Deb Martinson’s career and the criteria for this award.


Award Criteria

To be eligible for the award, the initiative must be led by at least one person who participates in SLACWPA events and discussions. Recipients will have accomplished one or more of the following:

  1. Adapt writing program/writing center best practices to build and support programs that connect students, faculty, and staff to each other and/or the community beyond the college.
  2. Facilitate a program for students, faculty, and staff that helps students overcome barriers to success.
  3. Use resources imaginatively to serve writing program/writing center and institutional/community needs.

An initiative may meet these criteria through:

  • a Writing Associates/Writing Fellows program that demonstrates new or innovative collaboration
  • Writing Pedagogy across departments and/or divisions of the College that revitalizes curriculum or fosters the development of new communities
  • Course offerings in writing, writing pedagogy, and/or rhetoric at all levels
  • Pedagogy courses or undergraduate research initiatives that encourage peer tutors to write up, publish, and present their findings
  • Support for people whose first language is not English, informed by dedicated professional development for those who support them
  • Programmatic research that benefits the field
Application Process 

By June 16, 2018, please submit to slacwpa@gmail.com an application that includes the following information:

  • A detailed description (of no more than 500-600 words) of the initiative you wish to be considered for the award
  • Explanation of how it meets one or more of the award criteria listed above
  • Supporting documentation (e.g., video, student work, a published article, testimony from participants or beneficiaries, quantitative data)

Please note that while the Martinson Award recognizes substantial innovations, the only access the Selection Committee has to those innovations is the application. Your application, therefore, should be well-written, organized, and detailed, and it should provide explanation and context for any supporting documents included.

The award will be presented annually, but only in cases where an application meets the criteria outlined.

The Award 

The recipient will be notified by August 18, 2018. The initiative selected for the ward will be celebrated in two ways:

  • a representative from the initiative’s program or institution will be invited to offer a brief presentation focused on the initiative at the opening Friday event of the annual SLACWPA conference;
  • and, the program or institution will receive a framed certificate.
Selection Committee

Kimberly Drake (Scripps College)

Jill Gladstein (Swarthmore College)

Julie Prebel (Occidental College)

Michael Theune (Illinois Wesleyan)

Deno P. Traka (Wofford College)

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