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How One Man Took Courage and Transformed Writing Techniques

How One Man Took Courage and Transformed Writing Techniques

Academic Board Member, Director of University Writing Programs at the University of Chicago’s College, Resident Master of the college’s Renee Granville-Grossman Residential Commons East- it’s hard to believe but all these titles belong to one man, Larry McEnerney. He influenced  masses and  drastically changed  the perception of writing. Furthermore, Larry was awarded the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching  in 1997.

The Tangled Story of Eccentric Leader

A lot of colleagues and students describe McEnerney as a vibrant, quirky and ingenious person. You can often hear talks on the campus about lecturer’s controversial and yet undeniably thoughtful theories. At UChicago Larry is a local celebrity, however, few know that his gripping path began after graduation. At the time, the scholar was undergoing training in a course on academic writing. It was in 1978 that he first puzzled over the complicated matter of essays. McEnerney was asked to teach the subject with no streamlined materials. There were on ‘going fervent discussions between faculty members Joseph M. Williams and Gregory Colomb over the art of writing. Mr. McEnerney waited for instructions but instead got caught in the debates. He often reflects on the moments and considers them to be both frightening and thrilling. In a way, the man had foreseen the emergence of original methods, felt the fragile ‘’ground’’. Now, after 40 years of successful teaching at LRS (LittleRed Schoolhouse) Larry is ready for the retirement.

Vocabulary Is Only the Icing on the Cake

This past quarter McErnerey held his last classes. Although giving an online lecture was not an unfamiliar experience for him, scholar had hoped for an interactive live dialogue. With the outbreak of coronavirus, he had no choice but to deliver e-lectures. Curious youngsters can find his recorded speeches on YouTube and see that the mentioned videos have picked over one million views. Larry calls his course a tiny-tiny drop in the ocean of writing craft and outlines the main features of good papers: value, persuasiveness, organization and comprehensibility. He emphasizes that writing as a process consists of basic and advanced skills. The former are learnt at school (grammar and structure rules). Meanwhile, the latter are offered at higher educational institutions. McEnerney states: some aspects of writing require dedication and maturity which can only be reached at a certain stage of life. He stresses the importance of addressing and pampering a particular auditorium. The text, according to humanitarian, shall entertain, flow with reader’s expectations and add little tension. While these principles seem obvious they are excruciatingly difficult to follow in practice. The stark fact is: experts are not so excellent at writing to other experts. Therefore, Larry says: ‘You have a problem with something and it needs to be solved. I will show you where your problem is and provide you with a solution’. Be it a legal brief, a business proposal or a scholarly article, McErnerey is of assistance to you.

Socialization is a key to wisdom

Over the years of his career the scholar formed strong friendly bonds and created welcoming environment in which students can grow personally and professionally. Some freshmen have even come to him for an advice on what literature to read. They tell McEnerney had always had a twinkle in his eyes when explained the subtleties of writing. Being happy-go-lucky guy, apart from his seminars, McEnerney consulted throughout the world with workmates, undergraduates and various organizations. Moreover, he was a lecturer in the Humanities and Social Sciences Core.

McEnerney’s Extraordinary Position on Campus

McEnerney and his wife Cathe have lived in Renee Granville-Grossman Residential Commons East and served as resident deans since the building’s opening in 2009. Acting as intellectual stewards for students residing in Cathey, Crown, Jannotta and Wendt Houses, the McEnerneys nourished team spirits and high morals. The married couple hosted weekly tea meetings, annual Orientation Week scavenger hunt and national scholars dinners. Due to pandemic effect, residents had to move out and spouses missed them dearly. No longer were the corridors filled with laughter and funny chats.

People Go, Agenda Stays

In his decennials of teaching, McEnerney tremendously impacted the Little Red Schoolhouse. His seminars accentuate the significance of writing — or what it can attain for a specific readership. Moreover, emotionally close relationships with the apprentices is not something every lecturer can boast of. It’s astonishing and fascinating how a man passed his passion to generations. He made an enormous contribution to academic society. Under his management, the Writing Program has drawn more than 2,000 members of the University community each year to educate them how to write more effectively for readers in and outside the academy. The wife of Mr. McEnerney, has also climbed the career ladder and enriched the university’s culture. During her tenure as resident dean, Cathe has been the president of the American Needlepoint Guild Inc., a board member of Brent House, UChicago’s Episcopal campus ministry, and a board member of Bishop Anderson House at Rush Medical Center. Additionally, she is a designer and teacher of needle arts.

The place of the McEnerneys will be taken by John Flynn, chief physician and dean of clinical affairs in the Biological Sciences Division, and Monica Flynn.

Saying goodbye to UChicago, Larry McEnerney expresses no regrets and anticipates the next challenges the facility will be coping with. He will keep track of Board activities because policies don’t die.

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