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Record Turnout Participates in UHD’s Biannual Forum on Plain English

With a full day of keynote speakers and enlightening discussions, the University of Downtown’s seventh biannual Forum on Plain English was a success with a record attendance of 100 higher education institutions and other organizations participating in this year’s virtual event on Oct. 22.

The forum was hosted by UHD’s Center for Plain English Research and Study. Attendees for the event joined the sessions from local universities such as UHD and Rice University, along with many out-of-state institutions from as far away as Ohio State University. Working professionals from MD Anderson Cancer Center, HHD, cPanel, LLC (WebPros), The Plain Language Group, LLC, Harris County, NRG and various consulting firms were in attendance.

“Considering all challenges that many organizations and individuals were currently facing with the current pandemic, we made sure that the event was accessible to all this year,” said Dr. Natalia Matveeva, Associate Professor of Communication Studies. “We are happy to see that the event was so widely attended.”

Keynote speakers Natasha Jones and Miriam Williams kicked off the morning session with their presentation, “Plain Language and Social Justice: Writing to Implement Change.” A question and answer session followed.

Jones currently serves as the Vice President for the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing (ATTW) and is an Associate Professor at Michigan State University in the Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures department. She co-authored the book Technical Communication after the Social Justice Turn: Building Coalitions for Action. She has also received national recognition for her work.

Williams is a Professor of English and Associate Chair of Texas State University’s Department of English. Prior to her career in higher education, she worked as a caseworker, health and safety inspector, policy analyst, policy editor, and program administrator for State of Texas agencies. Her books and articles focus on race, ethnicity, and technical communication, public policy writing, and critical analysis of historical discourse. She is a Fellow of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing.

The afternoon keynote session featured Dana Howard Botka’s discussion of “Building Citizen Trust Through Plain Language and User Centered Design.”

Botka is a graduate of Whitman College and the owner of PlainPoint Consulting. She has helped hundreds of public employees and teams create instructions, correspondence, forms, and web content that everyday citizens can understand. Botka has won several national and state awards for her work with the state of Washington.

The forum was sponsored by The Institute for Plain English Research and Study (IPERS) and was coordinated by Matveeva and Dr. Michelle Moosally, Associate Professor of English and Associate Vice President of Planning and Curriculum.

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) – the second-largest university in Houston – has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.

As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates more than 15,000 students; boasts more than 61,000 alumni and offers 45 bachelor’s, nine master’s degree programs and 16 fully online programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service; Sciences & Technology; and University College).

For the fourth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranks UHD among universities across the nation for Best Online Criminal Justice Programs (No. 27 and No. 15 for Veterans) and Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.

UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. U.S. News ranked the University among Top Performers on Social Mobility and awarded UHD a No. 1 ranking as the most diverse institution of higher education in the southern region of the U.S. The University is noted nationally as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Minority-Serving Institution and Military Friendly School. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.