Valerie Balester, Professor of English and Executive Director of the University Writing Center, specializes in rhetoric and composition. Her 1993 Cultural Divide: Case Studies of African American College-Level Writers (Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook-Heinemann) earned an Honorable Mention for the W. Ross Winterowd Award for best book on composition theory. She discusses that work in “The Problem of Method: Striving to See with Multiple Perspectives,” a response to “History in the Spaces Left: African American Presence and Narratives of Composition Studies” (CCC 52:1, September 2000: 129-32). She collaborated with graduate student Ellen Weber on “Ebonics, Standard American English, and the Power of First-Year Composition” (Against the Grain: A Volume in Honor of Maxine Hairston, Hampton Press, 2002). In 2004 she collaborated with Michelle Hall Kells and Victor Villanueva in editing Latino/a Discourse and Teaching Composition as Social Action, a collection of essays on Latino/a discourse and writing pedagogy which is going into a second printing (Boynton/Cook). She and James McDonald were the keynote speakers at the 2007 International Writing Centers Association conference in Houston, Texas.
Balester has long been an advocate of writing centers and started one at Texas A&M in 1990 with English graduate students. She also served four years as the Director of Writing Programs in the Department of English, training and supervising writing teachers for FY composition, technical writing, and writing about literature. In 2001-02, she served as Interim Director of the newly created University Writing Center and became its Executive Director in 2002. She takes a political stance on writing centers in “Revising the ‘Statement’: On the Work of Writing Centers” (CCC 43.2, May 1992: 167-71). Her work with James McDonald, “A View of Status and Working Conditions: Relations Between Writing Program and Writing Center Directors” in Writing Program Administration 24.3 (Spring 2001): 59-82, won the International Writing Centers Association Best Article of Year for 2001-02.
Her current project is an assessment of the effectiveness of the writing-in-the disciplines program at Texas A&M University. She also is working on issues of diversity in writing centers with a focus on international graduate students.