Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Michael M. Williamson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Bennett Rafoth, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Susan Welsh, Ph.D.


This study investigates the impact of being the only composition scholar on writing program administrators' work, relationships, and identities. The study data illuminates the experiences of a segment of the writing program administration population that is currently underrepresented: writing program administrators who are also the only composition scholars at their institutions. Twenty-two current or previous only-composition-scholar writing program administrators were surveyed to establish scholarly exigency. Fourteen of the survey participants were interviewed about their work, relationships and identities. The participants indicated their work was substantially affected by being the only composition scholar. They reported that ideological differences between literacy and composition studies resulted in a lack of respect for composition studies and for their expertise. Relationships with colleagues beyond the participants' home departments and programs were easier to navigate and more productive. The participants also indicated that being the only composition scholar at their institutions affected their rhetorical choices, created different challenges in curriculum design and change, caused them to feel alienated from the field of composition, and affected their ability to establish praxis. They also reported being satisfied in their positions.