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History of the Knight Institute

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  • 1865 - Cornell University is founded by Ezra Cornell and its first president, Andrew Dickson White.
  • 1918 - Cornell Professor of English William Strunk writes The Elements of Style. In 1959 it is published as revised and enlarged by E. B. White, in which form it becomes and has continued to be a classic guide to writing.
  • 1966 - Cornell revitalizes the teaching of first-year writing by replacing a program based solely in the Department of English with freshman humanities courses taught in nine departments. The program continues to be administered by the English Department.
  • 1972 - The first tutorial service is established; this later becomes the Writing Workshop, offering tutorial services and special writing courses.
  • 1975 - The writing program has grown to fifty different courses in seventeen departments.
  • 1982 - The writing program, after intensive faculty and administrative consultation, becomes an independently situated, administered, and funded entity. Fredric Bogel, Professor of English, is hired as the first director of the reorganized writing program (1982 - 1985).
  • 1985 - Harry Shaw, Professor of English, becomes Director of the Writing Program from 1985 - 1992
  • 1986  - The Knight Foundation provides a major endowment for the Writing Program, ensuring its ability to provide intensive training and skilled supervision to instructors in many disciplines. The Writing Program is renamed "The John S. Knight Writing Program." Katherine Gottschalk becomes director of First-Year Writing Seminars.
  • 1988 - The Writing in the Majors Program is founded with the aid of a Cornell President's Initiative grant. Keith Hjortshoj, Senior Lecturer, becomes director of Writing in the Majors.
  • 1992 - The Knight Foundation endows the John S. Knight Directorship of Writing in the Majors. The Walter C. Teagle Foundation endows the Walter C. Teagle Directorship of First-Year Writing Seminars. Jonathan Monroe, Professor of Comparative Literature, takes over the directorship of the Knight Writing Program.
  • 1994  - Dr. George Elliot endows the George Elliot Professorship of Writing and Rhetoric, a position held by the director of the Knight Institute.
  • 1997 - The Knight and Park Foundations provide further funding for Writing in the Majors.
  • 1998 - The Knight Institute hosts the first Cornell Consortium for Writing in the Disciplines.
  • 1999 - Cornell hosts the Fourth National Conference for Writing Across the Curriculum.
  • 1999 - The Knight Foundation provides further endowment for internal development through Sophomore Seminars and for national and international outreach, through the Cornell Consortium for Writing in the Disciplines, the Knight Scholar-in-Residence, and the Knight Fellows in the Disciplines.
  • 2000 - The Knight Program is formally renamed the John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines.
  • 2003 - The John S. Knight Institute moves from Goldwin Smith Hall to a suite of offices in 101 McGraw Hall.
  • 2006 - Paul Sawyer, Professor of English, assumes the directorship of the Knight Writing Program.
  • 2016 - George Hutchinson, Professor of English, becomes director of the Knight Insitute.

For a thorough historical overview, see Katherine Gottschalk's "Putting – and Keeping – The Cornell Writing Program in Its Place: Writing in the Disciplines." Language and Learning Across the Disciplines. 2.1 (April 1997) 22 - 45.