Wilson to lead Program in Writing and Communication

Jennifer Wilson has been named the new director of Rice’s Program in Writing and Communication (PWC). She previously served as the director of the Center for Written, Oral and Visual Communication (CWOVC), one of several programs administered by the PWC since its opening in 2012.

Jennifer Wilson

Jennifer Wilson assumed her new role Aug. 15. (Photo by Jeff Fitlow)

“As the director of the CWOVC, Dr. Wilson played a pivotal role in defining and fulfilling the PWC’s mission,” said C. Fred Higgs III, vice provost for academic affairs. “Her team of staff and peer communication consultants provided support for more than 2,400 Rice students last year. She also launched credit-bearing ESL courses for graduate students and has advanced departments’ efforts to integrate communication in the curriculum.”

Wilson was also responsible for developing an effective training seminar for First-Year Writing-Intensive Seminar instructors, which has contributed significantly to that program’s quality and outcomes.

“I’m honored to follow Tracy Volz, who was the inaugural director of the PWC,” said Wilson. “In only five years, Tracy created a vital program that spans the campus and supports undergraduates, graduate students, staff and faculty. I’m excited by the opportunity to build on her legacy by expanding both the PWC’s work in visual communication and its efforts to relate communication instruction to the ways students are expected to communicate in their majors and careers.”

Wilson assumed her new role Aug. 15. Volz, who has been at Rice for nearly two decades, will become director of the Engineering Communications Program.

In March 2019, the PWC will host its first statewide symposium on visual communication, focusing on data visualization. It’s just one of many collaborative undertakings that has Wilson excited for the year ahead. “We’re bringing in nationally recognized experts in data visualization and hope to attract Rice faculty and students from across the campus,” she said.

A 1993 Rice graduate, Wilson served in her alma mater’s admissions office from 1995 to 2002, eventually becoming the associate director of admission. She earned a master’s degree in applied English linguistics at the University of Houston in 2004, after which she served as assistant director of the University of Houston Writing Center, and completed her doctorate in applied linguistics at the University of Toronto before returning to Rice in 2012.

“One of my primary goals is to engage more faculty in considering how to use communication activities to enhance their students’ content mastery,” Wilson said. “Research shows us — and we ourselves have experienced as learners — that when students write about, talk about and visualize information, they interact with that information in a more analytical way and thus comprehend it better.”

About Katharine Shilcutt

Katharine Shilcutt is a media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.