Introducing Sweetland’s Interim Associate Director

Dr. Simone Sessolo has generously stepped into the Associate Director position on an interim basis for the 2021-22 academic year, a role Dr. Naomi Silver occupied for the last dozen years. Dr. Sessolo holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Texas at Austin (2012). He joined Sweetland in fall 2012 and has contributed substantially to many initiatives. He has taught Writing 100, 200, and 201; as well as Writing 300 and 301 in the Peer Writing Consultant Program. He also offers classes at the graduate level and has been co-director of the summer Dissertation Writing Institute since 2018. He is also co-director of Sweetland’s Digital Rhetorical Collaborative. For the past few years, he led a group of colleagues in developing The Dissertation ECoach, a messaging tool that provides targeted feedback to writers. Last year, he won the Digital Studies Initiative inaugural teaching award—so he literally set the standard for pedagogical excellence in digital environments!

The Sweetland Director, faculty, and staff are delighted he’s willing to commit his considerable energy, clear thinking, excellent problem-solving skills, outstanding knowledge of writing pedagogy, and splendid organizational abilities to help administer the unit. He brings admirable efficiency and a well-informed perspective to administrative decision making, and we are all happy to work with him in this new role.

Faculty Spotlight: Naomi Silver

In April, 2021, Dr. Naomi Silver stepped down from her position as Associate Director of Sweetland. She became Associate Director in 2007, and her long tenure is testament to her commitment to our unit. Dr. Silver steered Sweetland along several directors and changes, always providing stability and excellence.

Dr. Silver deserves special recognition for her contributions over the years she served as Associate Director. Sweetland is nationally renowned in large part because of Dr. Silver’s leadership. In particular, her initiative and thinking started the Digital Rhetoric Collaborative in 2013, establishing a space for digital rhetoricians to inquire about new ideas, conversations, and activities. Dr. Silver will continue to direct the DRC and work with graduate-student fellows from all over the country.

Having returned to a full-time faculty position, Dr. Silver is excited to teach courses in digital and embodied rhetorics, as well as the seminar in peer-consulting this Winter 2022. She’s been a beacon of stability and resilience as Associate Director for many years, teaching us all at Sweetland what it means to represent this unit with care and distinction. Students at U-M are very lucky that Dr. Silver will share her passion and expertise with them in her wonderful classes.

One way or another, through class observations, discussions, support, and collaboration, Dr. Silver contributed to the development of all of us here at Sweetland. We are thankful she dedicated so many years to serve as Associate Director of Sweetland, and she has our deepest gratitude.

Thank you, Naomi, for your leadership!

Faculty Spotlight: Shelley Manis

Dr. Raechelle (Shelley) Manis deserves special recognition for her contributions over the past few years to both the Minor in Writing (MiW) and the Peer Writing Consultant Program (PWCP). Dr. Manis’s courses cover the first- to the fourth-year curriculum, and all witness to her extraordinary creativity and commitment to each student she meets. She regularly teaches our crucial gateway and capstone courses in the MiW, as well as first-year writing and second-year writing courses for Lloyd Scholars for Writing and the Arts (LSWA).

During the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years, she moved into a leadership role for the MiW, while also serving as Interim Director for the PWCP. Her PWCP duties involve teaching a required course (Writing 301), organizing weekly staff meetings, planning for consultants’ professional development, and recruiting new consultants. Not only was this a new program for Dr. Manis, but it was also a program that had to be re-invented for remote teaching and tutoring before again being reinvented this year for in-person activities. Covid courses haven’t been a pedagogical detour for her, however, but an important part of her professional development from which she learns how to improve her teaching using all the tools at her disposal.

Daniel Hartlep, the Undergraduate Program Coordinator who provides staff support for both the MiW and PWCP, greatly appreciates the time Dr. Manis has spent over the past year or so orienting him to his new position, listening to consultants in order to discern and find ways to address their needs, and teaching the students how best to do their work in a remote environment. As he puts it, “she is doing a stellar job.” Her exemplary administrative work, curriculum development, pedagogical innovations, and care for each student she encounters make her well-deserving of particular recognition for her contributions to the Sweetland mission in both the MiW and PWCP.