CHRIS THAISS is Professor Emeritus of Writing Studies in the University Writing Program at the University of California, Davis. He was appointed Clark Kerr Presidential Chair and first permanent director of the UWP in 2006 after it became an independent unit of the University. He served as director until 2011. From 2012 to 2015, he served as Director of the UC Davis Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL). Until his retirement in July 2016, he served as Chair of the interdisciplinary PhD emphasis in Writing, Rhetoric, and Composition Studies (WRaCS). He is a member of the Graduate Group in Education and of its Language, Literacy, and Culture concentration. Until his retirement, he also served as Principal Investigator of the Area 3 Writing Project, a site of the National Writing Project. Before coming to UC Davis in 2006, he was Professor of English at George Mason University, where he directed the composition and writing-across-the-curriculum (WAC) programs and served as chair of the English Department. In 2005, he received the University's David King Award for career contributions to teaching excellence.
Active in the development of cross-curricular writing in colleges and universities for many years, Thaiss frequently consults on writing pedagogy and program development; he conducts workshops for colleges and universities regionally, nationally, and internationally. Since 2011, he has been a Consultant/Evaluator for the U.S. Council of Writing Program Administrators. Until 2016, he served as Coordinator of the International Network of WAC Programs (INWAC). In 2021, he was named a Distinguished Fellow of the Association for Writing Across the Curriculum.
Books he has written or edited include A Short History of Writing Instruction: From Ancient Greece to the Modern United States (ed. with James J. Murphy; 4th Ed., Routledge publishers, 2020), Writing Science in the Twenty-First Century (Broadview Press, 2019), Writing Programs Worldwide: Profiles of Academic Writing in Many Places (with Gerd Brauer, Paula Carlino, Lisa Ganobcsik-Williams, and Aparna Sinha; Parlor Press and the WAC Clearinghouse, 2012); Engaged Writers and Dynamic Disciplines: Research on the Academic Writing Life (with Terry Myers Zawacki; Heinemann, 2006)); WAC for the New Millennium: Strategies for Continuing Writing-across-the-Curriculum Programs (with Susan McLeod, Eric Miraglia, and Margot Soven; NCTE, 2001); The Harcourt Brace Guide to Writing Across the Curriculum; Writing to Learn: Essays and Reflections; Speaking and Writing, K-12 (with Charles Suhor); Language Across the Curriculum in the Elementary Grades; two textbooks for English composition classes, Write to the Limit and A Sense of Value; and three writing texts (Pearson) for specific disciplines: Writing about Theatre (with Rick Davis), Writing for Law Enforcement (with John Hess); and Writing for Psychology (with James Sanford). In addition, he has published more than 60 refereed articles and chapters.
Current research includes the International WAC/WID Mapping Project, by which Thaiss has worked since 2006 with a team of international scholars to "map" writing in the disciplines worldwide. In addition to the 2012 book Writing Programs Worldwide noted above, a multimodal web portal, Writingprogramsworldwide.ucdavis.edu, first appeared in 2016 and is open to contributions from scholars and program leaders worldwide.
Also ongoing is the survey-based U.S. portion of the WAC/WID Mapping Project, now in its second iteration (2015- ) following a first phase from 2006 to 2010.
In addition, he serves on the editorial boards of Across the Disciplines, Writing on the Edge, Writing Spaces, and the WAC Clearinghouse, and reviews for such journals as College Composition and Communication, Written Communication, and the transnational Journal of Writing Research.
PhD, English, Northwestern University (1975)
MA, English, Northwestern University (1971)
BA, English, University of Virginia (1970)