By Gail Hairston
University colleges typically only celebrate the writing of their students.
The University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences Department of Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Studies (WRD), however, presented its Excellence in Writing Awards to UK undergraduates as well as faculty and community writers.
Two UK faculty members and two writers who are well known to Lexingtonians were honored April 13, in the Colombia Room of the Boone Center (view the full program).
Typically, faculty are honored only in their disciplines for achievements and contributions and not for their writing. WRD is proud to step out of that box to honor Shannon Bell, assistant professor of sociology, and Tyrone Borders, professor and chair of health management and policy.
Similarly, the college rarely recognizes local writers. However, this year's community recipients are Tom Eblen, columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader, and Peter Brackney, author of “Lost Lexington.”
“By honoring student, faculty, and community writers alongside each other, we are celebrating the different ways that writing has impact,” said Jenny Rice, associate professor and director of composition, WRD.
“As one of the few such programs in the country specifically devoted solely to writing studies, the UK Department of Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Studies would like to connect professional writing, academic writing, community writing, and personal writing both on campus and in the region,” she said.
Both faculty members have made outstanding contributions to their own disciplinary field through their published scholarship. They demonstrate the power of the written word, and they also model excellence in writing.
For years, Eblen’s work has covered the history of Lexington and the Bluegrass region. His work shows how history and local profiles can be shared widely in beautiful prose.
Brackney has long been engaged in local writing efforts through his popular blog Kaintuckeean.com, which explores local history throughout the region. Brackney is a lawyer by profession, but his writing explores the combination of history, place stories, and current life in the Bluegrass.
The WRD Excellence in Writing Award was established in 2014 as a way of honoring the writing that happens on campus and in our community. Writing majors learn to create work that has an impact in both professional and community settings. For that reason, we decided to award three categories of writers at the same time: (1) outstanding student writers, (2) faculty writers who have made a real impact in their fields through writing, and (3) writers in the Lexington community who have contributed significantly to public dialogues.