University Distinguished Professor Dànielle DeVoss has been an integral part of the Writing, Rhetoric, and America Cultures (WRAC) Department since she joined the faculty in 2001. A graduate of MSU and Michigan Tech, Professor DeVoss originally had no plans to return to her alma mater. “I never imagined I would come back here,” she said. “[But] when I was in the market for a job, a position opened up. . . . It was 2001 and there were very few writing degree programs, so that was exciting.”
She was one of the curriculum developers of the Professional Writing major in 2008 and served as director of the program for five years. Since then she has also served as director of the Digital Humanities program in the College of Arts and Letters and participated in the development of the new Entrepreneurship and Innovation minor at MSU. Throughout that time she also maintained an impressive research agenda focused on her many interests, including technological literacies, digital-visual rhetorics, and copyright and intellectual property.
Her most recent endeavor is taking over as the new WRAC director of graduate studies. “Last year, I was Distinguished Visiting Faculty at the University of Louisville in the fall and on sabbatical in spring. A lot of changes were happening in WRAC at the time, including a new chair and new Director of Professional Writing, and I was excited to join the leadership team."
As the director for graduate studies, Prof. DeVoss will be in charge of recruiting potential graduate students as well as guiding current students through their coursework. She said that the biggest task in her position is sustaining the cultural life of the program. This means assessing the program to make sure people are content, intellectually fulfilled and developing professionally.
“One of the distinct features of our program is that we are not training ‘Mini Me’s’ [who] just go out into the world,” she said. “For our Ph.D. students, we really want to cultivate leaders who go out and change the institutions where they take jobs.”
Text and photo by Camille Douglas