Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Writing Program


Rebecca Moore Howard


Composition and Rhetoric, English language learners, Higher Education, Internationalization, Second Language Writing, Writing Program Administration

Subject Categories

Education | Higher Education


In this dissertation,Writing and the Internationalization of U.S. Higher Education: The Roles of Ideology, Administration, and the Institution, I examine one private institution, Syracuse University, for how it has approached internationalization (both currently and in historical efforts), how it has dealt with the increased presence of English language learners (ELLs), and how both realities may affect the research and practice of writing program administrators (WPAs). I use scholarship from Second Language Writing and Writing Program Administration as frameworks for examining some of the sociopolitics involved in addressing the new needs of an internationalized higher education institution, including the politics and ideologies that may impede WPA work but may not always be readily apparent. I draw on institutional research in the forms of archival research, interviews with university administrators, and an administrative case study of one graduate-level writing course for ELLs.

This dissertation project can be seen as culminating in two separate but intermingling qualitative studies. First, based on interviews with fourteen university administrators, I illustrate that some the most pressing concerns currently perceived at SU include cross-cultural conflict, a lack of resources for ELLs, and the need for increased and different kinds of institutional support, particularly since the effects of internationalization at SU have typically been handled after the fact rather than preemptively through strategic systemic planning. Then, based on rhetorical analysis of historical institutional data and archival materials, I exemplify how past efforts to internationalize were infused with separatist, colonialist, and ethnocentric points of view. I argue that applying institutional research to WPAs' local university contexts for the purposes of revealing current materialities and longstanding ideologies can enhance WPAs' abilities to locate opportunities for rhetorically negotiating change that is needed.

In my second qualitative study that informs this dissertation, I investigate the administrative practices and politics involved when implementing new writing resources on behalf of ELLs in higher education institutions. I provide an administrative praxis narrative describing my development and piloting of a graduate-level writing course for ELL students wherein I analyze the departmental and institutional constraints traversed. This situated and site-specific study--which is informed by participant-observations, field notes, course materials, and interviews with fourteen student participants and one writing instructor--further exemplifies some of the benefits and challenges of institutional research. I catalog many issues and obstacles WPAs may need to consider as they navigate the often opaque and power-infused institutional spaces in which they participate and seek to change, including issues of sustainability, institutional backing, and the politics of remediation.

To conclude this dissertation, I offer suggestions for future inquiry and propose a transdirectional model for institutional research and administrative practice. This model aims to account for a wider range of institutional realities as sites for determining transformational possibilities that better respond to linguistic and cultural diversity in higher education.


Open Access