Mary Tripp

Lecturer, Dept. of Writing and Rhetoric, College of Arts and Humanities and Assistant Director of University Writing Center 2015 Womens History Month

What is your current job title and responsibilities?
Lecturer in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric in the College of Arts and Humanities and Assistant Director of University Writing Center.  As a lecturer, my teaching load is 4/4; however, since I moved to the writing center this year, my teaching load is reduced to 2 courses each semester, usually first-year composition and an upper level course in digital writing or literacy. Additionally, I serve on several department committees, mostly involving curriculum development and assessment and fostering excellence in first-year composition. I also review GEP assessment plans for the university. In addition to my teaching and service, I participate in research projects about student learning and agency. My current project involves the use of peer research coaches in my writing courses.  As Assistant Director of the University Writing Center, I help supervise a staff of over 40 writing tutors. I also participate in tutor education and ongoing professional development, offering weekly seminars on best practices in tutoring and observing and conferencing with tutors each day.

What is your history at UCF and before UCF?
I attended UCF as an undergraduate in English Education and minor in music. I was a Marching Knight for my four years as an undergraduate. After graduation, I taught high school English at Maynard Evans High School. During the 1990s, I worked on a Master’s degree in English at Rollins College and had three daughters. I also taught pre-school part-time at the Early Childhood Center in Oviedo, FL.

Starting in 2001, I worked as an adjunct English and humanities teacher at Seminole Community College and Valencia Community College. I also taught humanities and English at UCF.  From 2007 to 2012, I also worked toward a PhD. in Texts and Technology at UCF. In 2009, I started my current full-time teaching position with the Department of Writing and Rhetoric.

What is your academic background?
I started out teaching high school English back in the early 1990s. When my children were small, I wanted to work part-time, so I taught pre-school for a few years until I was able to finish my Master’s degree. Beginning in 2001, I adjuncted, teaching English and Humanities and working the freeway flyer circuit between Valencia, Seminole, and UCF. While teaching part time, I learned that I really loved research, so I began a PhD in 2007. In 2009, I landed full-time instructor position, teaching first-year composition at UCF. I finished up my PhD in 2012, nearly 25 years after I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in English Education. While this is certainly a non-traditional path to an academic career, it has worked out quite well for our family.

What is your favorite UCF memory?
Our first KnightsWrite Showcase of First-Year Writing in December 2010. I was so proud to help conceive and produce the KnightsWrite Showcase, which recognizes excellence in first-year writing. That first year, we had poster and panel presentations by first year students in the Pegasus Ballroom. President Hitt recognized our top student writer, and faculty panelists talked about their writing. Showcase was well attended by member of the UCF community, and I was so proud of the excellent work of our students and the commitment of instructors in our composition program.

If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be? ($ and time no object)
I would reduce class sizes, especially for our first-year students. As a first-year composition teacher, I see so many students whose courses are all large lecture sections except for my course. These students get to know me, but they don’t ever really interact with most of their professors. We’re so cool. I want students to get to know us.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
I’ve learned that if you have a good idea, speak up. Administrators at UCF are quite willing to listen to ideas. There is a real culture of openness to innovation and new approaches. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be and why?
The Mary Tripp Thermostat.  I would love to have a thermostat that actually controls the temperature named after me. Then, I would like to control the thermostat.

If you could have lunch with anyone at UCF (who you do not normally eat lunch with), who would you choose and why?
I’d love to have lunch with Vonnie Adams from the housekeeping staff in Colbourn Hall because she is amazingly pleasant, works hard, and I want to know a lot more about her.

Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
Dr. Elizabeth Wardle believed in me and my abilities, often more than I believed in myself. She still does. Thanks, Elizabeth!!

Name and describe a teacher or researcher from your past who truly inspired you and why.
Mr. Bruce Saulpaugh at Bishop Moore High School. He inspired me to teach English, and most importantly, he convinced me to read, travel, and experience the world. I remember his stories of working summers as a garbage man in New York City so he could earn enough money to backpack through Europe. Although I never worked in sanitation, I did work to earn enough money to travel to Europe as a college student. And I’ve had wanderlust ever since. Reading and traveling, then being able to teach students from those experiences—now that’s the way to a beautiful life.

What undergraduate or graduate class/program/experience inspired you the most and why?
When I learned how to research writing and teaching pedagogy from Dr. Wardle. Her class on research in the field composition studies made me truly feel like I found “my people.” Since then, I’ve been reading, researching, teaching, and working in this field.

What is your favorite restaurant or food?
Rome’s Flavors on Morse near Park Ave. is my new favorite. Real Italian pizza and gelato, and owned by a family who moved here from Rome less than one year ago. Yum!!

What is your favorite movie, book or music?
Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking” It’s an intense and beautiful meditation on grief. Wow. That sounds so English teacher-y J

What is your favorite vacation destination?
I love New York City, mostly because my oldest daughter just moved there. There’s always so much to do and see. For a relaxing weekend, however, I love Savannah.


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