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2011.08.18 > For Immediate Release
contact: Wendy Townley - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2762 - email: wtownley@unomaha.edu

New Writing Textbook Designed for UNO Students, Features Local Work

Omaha - The new textbook used this fall for Composition I at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) was created by three faculty members and includes writings from a handful of noted authors, including Loren Eiseley, Barbara Kingsolver, Sherman Alexie and Michael Pollan, as well as UNO professors, John Price and Lisa Knopp.

The textbook – From the Heartland: Critical Reading and Writing at UNO – also includes papers written by UNO students in English 1150 during the 2010-2011 academic year.

Composition I is part of the English Department’s successful First-Year Writing Program, which is designed to help students find their voices in the academic community, said Nora Bacon, who oversees UNO’s First-Year Writing Program.

“The program encourages students to think about and address a variety of different academic audiences and the expectation of those audiences, including writing conventions, mechanics and the use of outside sources,” Bacon said.

First-Year Writing Program students represent a wide range of UNO students. Most come from the Omaha metro area, while others hail from other states or other countries. Most are 18 or 19 years old, but a sizable number are returning, more non-traditional students.

“As we worked on From the Heartland, the student we had in mind was the one we meet every semester in our classes – hardworking, earnestly interested in improving his or her writing, and ready to rise to an intellectual challenge,” Bacon said.

Bacon added about the First Year-Writing Program: “We also aim to help students find and develop their voices as members of the civic community. Students come to UNO with particular academic and vocational goals in mind; but our students leave with more than just a degree. They leave with an experience and the tools necessary to succeed in the workplace and beyond.”

Commercial textbooks are expensive and often feature more material than can be covered in a single course, said Tammie Kennedy, one of the book’s co-editors.

“We wanted to tailor a book to address the needs of UNO teachers and students in order to save students money and generate some revenue for the First Year Writing Program,” Kennedy said. “Royalties from the textbook will help support professional development opportunities for the First Year Composition faculty at UNO.”

To compile student essays for From the Heartland, faculty teaching Composition I at UNO were asked to submit examples of student work. Rather than selecting A+ papers, Kennedy and her editing team asked that faculty submit examples of student work that they felt were particularly successful in terms of the writing assignments and results.

“We wanted to include a variety of ideas and approaches to the various assignments as well as examples that reflect our diverse student body, perspectives and writing styles,” Kennedy said.

Jeff Kurrus of NEBRASKAland Magazine provided the artwork for the book’s cover.

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urban, regional, national and global life. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908.

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