Purdue OWL

MEHopper / About / Purdue / OWL

One of Mary Hopper’s first jobs at Purdue University was serving a Course Assistant for ENGL 420: Business Writing. The course served about 1,500 Purdue students in about 75 sections per year. The job entailed managing instructional materials for the many instructors that were led by Dr. Jeanne Halpern at the time.

When Hopper began her position, she worked in a room filled with towering piles of many different versions of mimeographed handouts that had accumulated over the years that the course had been offered. The situation arose because the many instructors were able to request customized sets of handouts for their course packs, and those sets had accumulated and devolved into a chaotic mess.

Mary Hopper spent two years bringing order to the piles. When she was done, the piles were gone and the handouts consisted of a nice, neat stack of around 200 or so pages. These became the core documents that were digitized and made available for the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL).

Along the way, Hopper got to know some of what was in the handouts, too ;)

See also Purdue Online Writing Lab
How to Start a Business Writing Lab (Heanne W. Halpern, The ABCA Buletin, 1981)

p. s. Owls seemed to be Hopper’s lot in life. A few years later she encountered the wise creature again in the form of the mascot of MIT’s Athena/Muse which she studied for her doctoral research and then worked on as an MIT employee.

© M. E. Hopper