I write as a member of the committee that in 1977 recommended to the then Dean of the Faculty that he invite Richard C. Marius to become Director of Expository Writing. At the time, Expository Writing was regarded by students and faculty alike as the weakest part of the undergraduate curriculum. Few of the writing teachers were themselves writers. Most students had a low opinion of Expos, and the best writers among them had the lowest opinions.
Today, owing entirely to the vision, energy and administrative skill of Marius, Expos is generally regarded as far and away the best undergraduate writing program in the country. It is a magnet for talented and successful writers. The list of past and present staff members is studded with names of distinguished essayists, journalists, novelists and poets. Expos' CUE ratings have been consistently high--higher than the average ratings of courses in most, if not all, large departments.
The statistics are borne out by my own observation. For many years I have made a practice of asking undergraduates whom I interview for teaching positions in my courses--all of them excellent writers--about their experience with Expos. Their reports have been overwhelmingly positive.
Expos teachers are hired only to teach writing. Unfortunately, not all good writers prove to be good teachers. In Expos, poor teachers don't get rehired, whatever their other strengths. It isn't surprising that some people who don't get rehired, or who get fired for cause, or who for other reasons are unhappy with their work should blame Expos and its director. What is surprising is the use to which The Crimson has put these people's opinions. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, if this is how The Crimson treats its readers, it doesn't deserve to have any. David Layzer '46 Menzel Professor of Astrophysics