3 photos of Kate Ronald. From left to right: Kate gesturing to chalkboard; Kate, seated, having discussion with fellow professor; Kate with student at a conference.

Join Us in Honoring Kate Ronald and Her Legacy

Professor Kate Ronald, beloved teacher, mentor, and colleague, died unexpectedly on October 27, 2020. She spent 20 years at Miami (1996-2016) advocating for the importance and beauty of writing in all its forms and uses. Her intelligence, wit, and southern charm are legendary. Her impact on composition and rhetoric, teaching, and writing across the curriculum is both deep and broad.

We've made this page to, with your help, honor Kate's long-lasting and far-reaching legacy. Read about the impact she had at Miami, learn about the Fellowship being funded in her name and memory, and please share your own personal tribute to Kate below. 

Read about Kate's tenure at Miami

Kate came to Miami from the University of Nebraska in 1996 as the inaugural Roger & Joyce Howe Distinguished Professor of Written Communication, in a unique joint appointment with the Department of English and what was then the Richard T. Farmer School of Business Administration (SBA, now the Farmer School of Business). As the new director of the Howe Writing Initiative in the SBA, Kate said of her appointment:

"My hope is to help faculty outside of English show their students how writers sound, how writing looks, what audiences expect, in a variety of disciplines, both academic and professional” because “the ability to write and speak clearly, with a solid sense of audience and form, a compelling style and voice, as well as the ability to adapt all those things to changing contexts, is the mark of an educated professional, academic, or anyone whose work requires communication with other people.” [1]

Over the next 20 years, Kate did just that as an English professor and director of the HWI, then as the second director of the university-wide Howe Center for Writing Excellence in 2012. Along the way, Kate won awards for Teaching Effectiveness (Farmer SBA, 2001), was the inaugural recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Graduate Instruction and Mentoring (Graduate School, 2006), and was named a Distinguished Educator (College of Arts and Science, 2011) before retiring as Professor Emerita of English in 2016.

Kate taught undergraduates the importance of audience and purpose and beautiful sentences, to “write about something you care about to someone you care about.” [2] She advised numerous graduate students through their theses, dissertations, administrative assignments, and life. She worked with many faculty and students on committees or task groups to improve writing instruction at Miami. In workshops, class observations, and consultations, Kate taught faculty across the university about the benefits of teaching with writing and the need for students to write in multiple disciplinary and professional contexts. She mentored junior colleagues and brought a collegial and feminist ethos to the English department that lives on in the department’s stated principles today.


References: 1. “Improving Communication Skills in the Information Age” by Nancy Brewer (Senior majoring in creative writing). Pacesetter, Vol. 6, No. 2, Fall 1996, Miami University. 2. “Style: The Hidden Agenda in Composition Classes or One Reader's Confession” by Kate Ronald in The Subject is Writing: Essays by Teachers and Students, edited by Wendy Bishop. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 1999.

In the "Kate's Influence and Legacy" board, we welcome your thoughts—through written word, images, video, and/or audio—about how Kate influenced your approach to learning, teaching, mentoring, scholarship, understanding of writing, etc.. Besides providing an interactive memorial for all to share, we plan to put these statements into book form for Kate’s family.

Post your tribute directly to the board, or we can post for you (just email us at  updikeas@miamioh.edu). Consider posting under the column that answers “When I first met Kate, I was a…. If these categories don’t seem to fit you or what you’re posting, feel free to post under Other. Please include your full name in the post (it won't be added automatically unless you sign in with an account). 

More details on how to post your tribute

Perhaps you are one of Kate’s former undergraduate students or writing consultants who learned from her the joys of writing with rhetorical savvy and style. Perhaps you are one of the fortunate graduate students whom she took under her wing. Perhaps you were a colleague in another department who consulted with Kate on using writing effectively in your courses. Perhaps you worked on a committee or writing initiative with Kate. Or perhaps you knew her in passing by her signature “Hey, darlin’.” If so, we want to hear how Kate influenced you then and how her legacy continues in your writing and teaching today.

You can share your tribute either by posting directly to the interactive board below or emailing us at updikeas@miamioh.edu

To post, click the "+" under your category of choice. In the pop-up window that appears on the board:

  • Write a title (we know from Kate how important a good title is!)
  • Write your thoughts regarding Kate’s influence or impact on you.
  • If appropriate, please include the dates or time frame/context in which you knew Kate.
  • Optionally, add photos, files, audio, video etc. using the small icons or … in the pop-up window.

The Kate Ronald Fellowship

We invite you to donate to The Kate Ronald Fellowship.

The proceeds of the fund will be used to augment stipends for one or more doctoral students in the Department of English who embody Kate's values and priorities: a commitment to undergraduate teaching (especially the teaching of first-year writing), women's rhetoric, and meaningful collaborative writing and research.

The fellowship will be offered to incoming doctoral students and will be renewable for up to five years.

Donate

Made with Padlet
Kate Ronald, standing, with 4 peers.
 Kate Ronald, seated, talks with fellow professor at English Department events.
Kate Ronald posing with 3 students at conference.
Kate Ronald with large group of students at the Howe.
Kate Ronald, standing, with 3 Howe staff members.
Kate Ronald, with colleagues, in King Library beneath Howe Center for Writing Excellence sign.
Kate Ronald at the Louvre in Paris with colleagues.
Kate Ronald poses with Howe staff in Armstrong building at Miami University.
Kate poses with graduate student outside the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey.