Vaughn Upshaw Prioritizes Writing in the Summer Writing Group (SWG) Program
Vaughn Upshaw is a Lecturer at the School of Government. Her scholarship has focused on teaching leadership and governance to public officials. Her Board Builder Series of publications have been widely disseminated and well received by North Carolina local government officials. To expand her scholarship to larger audiences in public administration and leadership, she continually seeks opportunities to work with other faculty and scholars in supportive writing group settings.
When Professor Upshaw joined the CFE/IAH co-sponsored Summer Writing Group program in Summer 2013 (inaugural year), she had some idea of what to expect given her past writing group experiences. That summer, her writing group included faculty from law, psychology, and mathematics. They met weekly, focusing on whether or not each of them met their writing goals for a given week. They even created a tool that all of them could use to qualify their writing productivity using a traffic light as a metaphor for accountability: red represented no words on paper; yellow represented doing some editing and revising of words that were already written; and green represented getting new words down on paper. Her group was extremely productive that summer. Professor Upshaw completed a book for the Board Builder series, but most importantly, she gained a lot of confidence in being able to write regularly as opposed to the typical binge writing she was used to doing before.
Professor Upshaw had such a good experience the first year in the Summer Writing Group program that she joined again in Summer 2014. This time, however, she wanted to do something different. She was put in a faculty writing group where sharing of each other’s writing was preferred. The other faculty members in her group were from health affairs, public policy, library sciences, and English. She was chosen to be group facilitator and they adopted the traffic light tool she and her former group used. They met regularly with one faculty member’s writing being the focus every week. What was great and different about her experience in the program this time, was having to write and be understood by an interdisciplinary group of faculty. More importantly, she was having to write with the purpose of making her work relevant to a broader community of scholars. She was able to complete a manuscript for a well-known publication in the area of public administration, and her group peers had similar writing successes as well.
Professor Upshaw felt that the Summer Writing Group program not only helped with getting her to write, she also stated, “This program really helped me elevate writing as a priority.”