Home Carrollton Retired director continues support of UWG’s First-Year Writing Program

Retired director continues support of UWG’s First-Year Writing Program

Dr. Martha Ann Saunders served as director of UWG’s First-Year Writing program in the 1980s.

by Miranda Hodges

A testament to the University of West Georgia’s commitment to fostering literary excellence, the UWG First-Year Writing program’s roots embody a rich legacy that continues to shape the journey of aspiring writers. This scholarship further exemplifies UWG’s dedication to cultivating a dynamic and competitive academic environment, aligning seamlessly with the university’s strategic plan to remain at the forefront of educational innovation. 

At the heart of this legacy is Dr. Martha Ann Saunders, who served as director of the First-Year Writing program in the 1980s and whose vision laid the foundation for scholarly pursuits that stand the test of time. Due in large part to Saunders’ service and support, the First-Year Writing Program is a cornerstone of academic excellence at UWG.

“Our program centers on two goals: focusing on concrete skills and developing soft skills that students often need help cultivating,” said Bonnie Jett, director of UWG’s First-Year Writing program. “Our ultimate goal is that students who take these courses become better writers and emerge as critical thinkers. We prepare students to navigate a culture of media oversaturation, emphasizing information literacy as a critical skill.” 

The program fosters a holistic approach to education as many first-year writing courses teach college basics like note-taking, annotations, and other concepts that may be new to first-year students.

“We recognized that most of our students come from diverse backgrounds; as such, many struggle with the sense that they don’t belong or won’t be able to succeed,” explained Jett. “That fixed mindset often leads to a lack of student engagement. Our faculty addresses this early in our first-year writing courses, foregrounding growth and purpose mindset principles that we can always adapt to new situations.”

As the First-Year Writing program continues to foster academic excellence, the faculty’s dedication drives the program’s success.  

“Without question, the First-Year Writing Program’s strength is its dedicated faculty,” Jett said. “Our program is unique because most faculty have taught these same courses at UWG for nearly a decade or more.”

Faculty members are not just educators but mentors, guides, and pillars of support for first-year students navigating the complexities of higher education. 

Saunders remains integral to this program’s ongoing success through her commitment to the program and her recent creation of the Dr. Martha Ann Saunders Scholarship for First-Year Writing Endowment. 

“We are beyond thrilled that Dr. Saunders has so generously offered this scholarship,” said Bonnie. “Even in retirement, she has remained a pillar of support for the First-Year Writing program, and we’re very grateful.”

The indelible mark left by Dr. Saunders’ leadership of the First-Year Writing program stands amidst decades of legacies that strive to impact students and their writing careers. 

“The art of good writing is hard to find nowadays,” Saunders said. “Clear, thoughtful expression is a skill that opens doors and transcends disciplines. I hope students feel empowered to refine their writing skills and cultivate a mastery of impactful and timeless language.” 

The Dr. Martha Ann Saunders Scholarship for First-Year Writing Endowment will be awarded for the first time in Spring 2024 and will continue to be awarded annually to students with experience in writing-centered activities who have declared a major and/or minor related to writing.

For more information about how you can make an impact by supporting UWG and the Dr. Martha Ann Saunders Endowment, please visit UWG’s Give West page.