Joliet, Ill. – A recent survey of business executives and hiring managers sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities demonstrated that employers identify the skills cultivated in a liberal arts education as most valuable to hiring and long-term career success. Specifically, the most important educational outcomes include oral communication, critical thinking, ethical judgment, working effectively in teams, written communication, and real-world application of skills and knowledge. Through its new Ensuring Writing Competency in Graduates initiative, which is being funded through a donation worth $58,400 from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, the University of St. Francis (USF) seeks to restore writing to its central role in the undergraduate liberal arts education it offers students.

The new initiative, led by USF English and Foreign Languages Department instructors Kathryn Duys, Ph.D.; Anna Ioanes, Ph.D.; Elizabeth McDermott, Ph.D. and; Kevin Spicer, Ph.D., focuses on curricular innovations which build upon the College Writing and Foundations (First-year Seminar) experience to include digital technologies and that will lead to the creation of a new sophomore-level writing enhanced course. This sophomore experience will scaffold to a capstone experience. This sophomore experience will scaffold to a capstone experience, in which writing is reinforced as an essential, transferable skill.

The funding will also provide opportunities for faculty leadership enhancement by supporting release time for a current faculty to take on the formal role of writing program director who will provide professional training and pedagogical resources to university faculty who teach writing across the disciplines.

“A writing program with a dedicated faculty director would provide the visibility and resources to incorporate sound, discipline-specific writing pedagogy across our general education curriculum and the university, improving student outcomes and enhancing faculty leadership. It would amplify our broader aim: to restore writing to its central role in the undergraduate liberal arts education at the University of St. Francis. This is needed now more than ever, as the tumultuous times of our world require clear communication and civil dialogue to promote truth and justice,” Duys offered.

“We are thrilled to receive support from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to bolster written and multimedia communication among our students,” stated USF Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Beth Roth, Ph.D. “Thanks to the Foundations’ generosity, we will launch a year of innovative curriculum redesign and pedagogy that points towards the future.”

“We hope this donation will further the efforts St. Francis is making to unify the writing program and provide opportunities for students to strengthen both their written and digital skills,” said Annie Bryant, Senior Program Officer for Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.

About the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations

The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations were organized in 1952 by Arthur Vining Davis, general manager of the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) for more than half a century. The Foundations are a legacy of Davis’ successful corporate leadership, and they aim to honor his ambitious philanthropic vision. Since their inception, the Foundations have given over 3,800 grants totaling more than $300 million to colleges and universities, hospitals, medical schools and divinity schools. Visit for more information.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 51,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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