A Year of Success in the University Writing Center
Bronwyn T. Williams
Director, University Writing Center
In the rush to meet deadlines, turn in papers, finish grading, and all the other actions that mark the end of an academic year, we can become so focused on navigating what’s ahead of us that we lose sight of the journey we’ve completed. I always think it’s useful to look back and reflect (no surprise to those who know me). As with every year, the central mission of the Writing Center has been to work with members of the university community to help them become stronger writers. The consultants in the Writing Center have worked with thousands of students, faculty, and staff on everything from dissertations to lab reports to job letters to novels, and have done an amazing job from the first day of fall semester to the last day of this term. In addition to this ongoing teaching of writing, however, this year in particular has been an eventful year at the University Writing Center. It’s worth taking a moment to point to some of the accomplishments, and to talk about what they are going to allow us to do in the future.
Some of what has taken place has been new:
Writing Center Website: In February our new website went online. Not only is it easier to navigate, but we have new material online to help writers. For example, we have links to answer questions about Common Writing Situations faced by both undergraduate and graduate students. We also have up-to-date handouts on everything from strategies for revision, to writing better introductions and conclusions, to issues of grammar and style. We will be continuing to build the website in the common year to add more resources for students and to create resources for faculty writers and about the teaching of writing.
Virtual Dissertation Writing Retreat: We held our first online Dissertation Writing Retreat for distance students in January and plan to have similar events in the coming year.
Writing in the World Art Show: We held our first, juried art show focused on ideas and images about writing. Titled “Writing in the World,” and organized by Gabrielle Mayer in Fine Arts, the show opened as part of the Symposium of Student Writing in March.
“How I Write” Blog Series: Writers as varied as University President James Ramsey, sports blogger Mike Rutherford, professor and Associate Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the School of Medicine Tom Geoghegan, and novelist Brian Leung contributed to our new blog series on “How I Write.” Each writer offered insights into writing processes and tricks and approaches to writing. The series, the brainchild of Assistant Director Ashly Bender, will go on hiatus for the summer but return in the fall.
Some of what happened was the growth of ongoing Writing Center projects:
Writing Center Social Media: Our presence on Twitter and Facebook became more frequent and popular over the past year. And our blog not only brought ideas about writing and Writing Center work to the UofL community, but also connected to writers, teachers, and tutors around the country.
Dissertation Writing Retreats:We will continue to have our popular Dissertation Writing Retreats in the spring and fall semesters at the University Writing Center.
Workshops: Our Writing Center staff conducted a broad range of writing workshops in both courses and for student organizations on issues such as revision, writing a literature review, citation styles, and resume writing.
Finally, in addition to carrying on with these ongoing projects, there will be more changes in the year ahead:
WCOnline Scheduling Software: Starting in May the University Writing Center will move to new scheduling software. This new scheduling software will make it easier for students to make their own appointments online, and make it easier for us to coordinate and work with writers, both in person and online. If you’re planning on coming back to the Writing Center in the fall, take a look in the summer and take a moment to register with the software.
Videos about Writing: We’re planning on creating more videos that respond to student concerns about writing and writing processes.
It has been another strong year at the University Writing Center and I want to thank all the writers who made appointments with us and all the faculty who supported our work by recommending us to their students.
I also want to thank all the amazing Writing Center staff for such a great year. The positive, supporting, and productive work that takes place here, and the transformative effect it can have on students, comes from the thoughtful and dedicated work of our staff.
We will be open during the summer, starting May 12, from 9-4 every weekday. Meanwhile, take a look at our website and we hope to see you soon.
Writing Center Staff Achievements
The University Writing Center, in addition to its teaching mission, is also an active site of scholarship about the teaching of writing. Staff from the Writing Center were engaged in a number of scholarly projects during the past year in rhetoric and composition, literature, and creative writing.
Jennifer Marciniak, Assistant Director for the Virtual Writing Center, was recognized by the Southeastern Writing Center Association as Graduate Student Tutor of the Year for 2013-14. She will be starting a job with the Writing Center at Berea College this fall.
Ashly Bender, Assistant Director of the Writing Center, published a chapter titled “Exploring Student-Veteran Expectations about Composing: Motivations, Purposes, and the Influence of Trauma on Composing Practices” in the collection Generation Vet: Composition, Student Veterans, and the Post-9/11 University.
Layne Gordon, a consultant, had her article on “Tutoring with Genre: Making Connections Between Genre Theory and Writing Center Pedagogy,” accepted for publication in Praxis: A Writing Center Journal.
And the Writing Center staff presented at a variety of conferences during this academic year.
Ashly Bender – Eastern Kentucky University Tutor Appreciation Workshop
Megen Boyett – Rhetoric Society of America and Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture
Daniel Ernst – Kentucky Philological Association; Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture
Meghan Hancock -Southeastern Writing Center Association
Jennifer Marciniak – National Conference on Peer Tutoring; Southeastern Writing Center Association
Dan McCormick – Language, Literacy, and Culture Graduate Student Conference; Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture
Jacob Robbins – Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture
Adam Robinson – Eastern Kentucky University Tutor Appreciation Workshop
Jessica Winck – Eastern Kentucky University Tutor Appreciation Workshop; Research Network Forum
Rick Wysocki – Language, Literacy, and Culture Graduate Student Conference; Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture
This summer Ashly Bender, Jessica Winck, Adam Robinson, and I will be presenting at the Council of Writing Program Administrators conference.
Finally, congratulations go to Megen Boyett and Amy Nichols for completing their MA program and to Amy for being admitted to the UofL Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition.