- W. George Pinnell Award for Outstanding Service (2013)
- President's Award for Distinguished Teaching (1998)
When colleagues describe Christine Farris’s service to her profession and discipline, they speak of intersections, bridge-building, seamless webs. Farris herself uses the word intertwined to describe her exceptionally integrated professional life, where research, teaching, and service merge imperceptibly. Since coming to IU as a specialist in English composition and rhetoric studies, she has been highly sought as an administrator, contributor to best practices in her field, and shaper of university, state, and national policy to make first-year writing and the bridge between high school and college accessible, rigorous, and interdisciplinary. Farris has written two books and edited three, and is the author of more than 35 articles and chapters and over 100 conference presentations and invited talks.
Reading and writing with skill are essential competencies for every IU graduate and citizen of Indiana. Farris plays a singular role in promoting writing competency, working with undergraduates, graduate instructors, faculty, administrators, and K–12 teachers. “I cannot think of anyone who has been more centrally involved with sustaining and advancing the vital work of writing instruction at this university,” says Professor of English Steven Watt. As director of composition for 14 years, Farris developed a curriculum for English W131 emphasizing interdisciplinary analytical reading and writing skills. She has trained some 400 associate instructors in this curriculum; they are regularly praised for the range of their teaching and the sophistication of their reflection on teaching.
Farris has chaired the IU Distinguished Teaching Awards Committee and Honorary Degrees Committee, served on the University Tenure Committee, the College of Arts and Sciences Promotion Committee, and the Committee on Sponsored Admissions, and chaired the General Education subcommittee that developed learning outcomes and guidelines for the English composition requirement. She was a key leader of a departmental task force linking literature and writing through the Preparing Future Faculty Initiative. This work inspired a volume co-edited with Judith Anderson, Integrating the Teaching of Literature and Writing (2007), which has provided models and strategies for faculty and programs nationwide. Farris’s work was essential to the Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate, where the Teaching and Scholarship Portfolio Review she helped develop became a model for other schools.
Farris has been a major contact person for writing instruction beyond the university. For 18 years, she has served as the faculty liaison to the Advance College Project (ACP), supervising curriculum and training high school educators across the state who teach English W131 for dual credit through IU. Farris’s model for training ACP teachers, oversight of course delivery, and philosophy on dual credit have reshaped the classroom experience for more than 200 teachers in 150 Indiana high schools, with implications for 300 more schools statewide. According to Mike Beam, ACP director and senior vice provost for undergraduate education, “No individual (professor, or other) has contributed more in action, analysis, and academic thought to what it means for college to ‘happen’ in the high school than Christine Farris.” Nationally, she is a leading expert in writing and dual-credit program administration. Her co-edited book College Credit for Writing in High School: The ‘Taking Care of ’ Business serves as the de facto text for educators across the country.
Farris has served on the Indiana Leadership Team of the nationwide Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. She has worked with the Indiana Core to College Alignment and the Indiana Commission of Higher Education on statewide General Education Articulation and Transfer guidelines and dualcredit accreditation. “Everything she undertakes is driven by a core commitment to the essential value of reading and writing in English,” says Watt. “This is a pedagogical commitment and an intellectual one. Ultimately, it is an ethical commitment: it is that ethical approach to her life as a member of this professional community that makes her many labors a true record of distinguished service.”