Ph.D. in English and Education, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (1981)
M.S. Ed. Secondary English Teaching, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb (1976)
A.B. Philosophy, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana (1971)

Professor of English, Emeritus, University of Delaware
Andrew B. Kirkpatrick, Jr., Chair in Writing, Emeritus
Director of Strategic Initiatives, School of Health Sciences, UD
Director, UD Institute on Transforming Undergraduate Education (ITUE)
PI, NSF TUES (Transforming Undergraduate STEM Education)
Past President, Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Writing
Past President, Association of Teachers of Technical Writing

Brief Bio

I retired from UD as of September 2016. I am now emeritus, living fulltime in Selbyville, Delaware, near the shore.

Dr. Stephen A. Bernhardt held the Andrew B. Kirkpatrick, Jr. Chair in Writing at the University of Delaware, from which position he promoted strong writing and communication skills across the university. He is the author of Writer’s Help, a Web-based reference handbook from Bedford/St. Martin’s now in its second edition. He taught courses in scientific and technical communication, first year composition, computers and writing, and grammar and style.

Prof. Bernhardt finished a five-year term as Chair of English in August 2009. He also held a joint appointment in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Health Sciences. With the College of Health Sciences, he worked on a range of strategic initiatives: increasing funded research, building business partnerships, developing the STAR campus, and promoting the Delaware Health Sciences Alliance. From 2013-2016, Dr. Bernhardt directed the Institute for Transforming Undergraduate Education (ITUE) at UD, a group of faculty who promote active, engaged learning through team, problem and project-based teaching, frequently with an emphasis on innovative technologies.

Professor Bernhardt is widely published in leading journals, with research interests centering on visual rhetoric, computers and writing, workplace training and development, and the teaching of scientific and technical communication. He is Past President of both the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication (CPTSC) and the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing (ATTW). He served two terms on the Editorial Board of College Composition and Communication, completed similar service on the board of Technical Communication Quarterly, and continues to serve the editorial board of the Journal of Business and Technical Communication. He is past Director of two National Workplace Literacy Demonstration Projects, funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

As Senior Consultant for Scientific Services, McCulley/Cuppan LLC, Salt Lake City, he has consulted widely with the pharmaceutical industry on designing large documentation sets using global teams and technologies, developing training programs, and improving written communication as a part of new drug registration. He has worked with over 60 biopharmaceutical companies in the US and the rest of the world. He taught at New Mexico State University for 14 years and at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale for 6 years. He took his PhD in English and Education at the University of Michigan in 1981, defending a dissertation on scientific writing.

Professional Statement

My teaching centers on helping people in both schools and workplaces develop skills in writing and communication. The most delicate work we do is helping people gain control over language, so they can work effectively, present themselves confidently to the world, and accomplish the goals they set for themselves. The work we do in rhetoric and professional communication, in composition and language arts is ennobling, immensely important, and consequential in both immediate and abstract ways. As the medium of language shifts toward electronic literacies and online texts, our work becomes even more complicated and important.

Teaching Biography

I am now the Andrew B. Kirkpatrick Chair in Writing and Professor of English, Emeritus, at the University of Delaware. I retired in September 2016 and reside fulltime in Santa Fe. I continue to consult to the pharmaceutical industry and to work on my online resource, Writer’s Help, from Bedford/Macmillan.

As of 2001, I am the first holder of the Andrew B. Kirkpatrick Chair in Writing and Professor of English at the University of Delaware. The Kirkpatrick Chair was endowed to honor UD Board of Trustees President Kirkpatrick, and the mission is to raise the culture of writing at the University. In this capacity, I worked across campus to further instruction in writing and communication, teach a variety of writing courses, and work closely with our English majors, especially those who emphasize English for Business and Technology. I work closely with faculty development in problem-based learning and outcomes assessment as paths to integrate writing across the disciplines.

My research interests center on workplace communication, especially pharmaceutical, technical, and scientific, as well as computer-mediated communication. I am something of a pragmatist, with strong interests in how language use is influenced by particular situations and technologies. I teach undergraduate courses in technical and business communication, typically in a computer setting. I like to help students develop their teamwork and technology skills, and to do it in a setting where they work on client projects.

My academic career is probably best described as a succession of related projects. I taught high school for several years and maintain interests in English Education, teacher preparation, and school reform. While I was Assistant Professor at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (1981-87, tenured and promoted to Associate Professor in 1987), I worked closely with Bruce Appleby and Greg Johnson on NEH-funded programs in writing across the curriculum, with an emphasis on writing and computers as learning tools. I taught courses and published research on literacy, basic writing, writing evaluation, and computers and writing. I consulted to various school districts and to the State of Illinois on the development of outcomes-based education.

At NMSU from 1987 to 2000, I taught a wide range of courses in the English Department, especially within the graduate programs in technical and professional communication. At NMSU, my interests centered on professional communication, especially in the graduate curriculum. I spent five years working with Paul Meyer on National Workplace Literacy Partnerships, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, NMSU, the NM Literacy Coalition, and some 17 hospitals around New Mexico. We established a wide range of literacy and communication training for entry level employees: basic reading; employee-to-employee tutoring in English and Spanish; short courses in speaking, writing, and supervising; and various workshops to increase employee skills and enhance their careers and personal lives. I actively pursue workplace connections and work to provide teaching technologies to our faculty.

My training and consulting work is closely related to my teaching. For several years, I worked with my friend and colleague Ted Smith of Austin, Texas, to offer a series of courses in writing and document development to employees of IBM, Motorola, and Hughes Electronics and Aerospace divisions. Since 1995, when I spent a year in Basel, Switzerland at Roche pharmaceuticals, my consulting and training has focused on document development and team facilitation in various companies bringing new drugs to market. I try to help students understand workplaces and to see themselves as document scientists and technical trainers.

Teaching Emphases and Research Interests

Technical, business, scientific and other forms of professional communication; computers and writing, document development, online and hypertext composition; empirical research methods; English education; grammar and style; publication management; consulting and training; workplace literacy.