Big Changes, and Big Opportunities, This Year at the Writing Center
Bronwyn T. Williams, Director
While there is no such thing as an uneventful year at the University Writing Center, this year has been notable for the changes – and opportunities – that have taken place. The most obvious change was our move to a new space on the renovated
first floor of Ekstrom Library. After fifteen years on the third floor, we finally moved at the end of October to our new space that we helped design. This new space is larger, more flexible, and allows us to begin to hold events that foster and celebrate a culture of writing on campus. We’re also more centrally located and can collaborate more closely with our partners in the Learning Commons, such as Library Reference.
It’s also worth noting that the amazing staff at the University Writing Center made the move in the middle of the semester without having to close for a single hour. Our staff is indeed amazing.
Before listing all the noteworthy accomplishments of the year, I don’t want to overlook the important, daily work the consultants here did in teaching writing. Whether working with first-year students or graduate students or faculty and staff, our writing consultants helped people with writing at every stage of the writing process. Our consultants are exceptional teachers who work with the writers who come here to make the writing stronger and the writers more confident. Just as important, our consultants have to be patient, good listeners, and respectful. We believe in starting with the writer’s concerns, working collaboratively, and focusing on learning, not grading. From our perspective it’s the way the best teaching and learning happens. There is a reason we will have more than 5,000 visits to the Writing Center by the end of the year, and that reason is our talented and dedicated staff of consultants.
I also want to thank my fantastic administrative staff who carried us through this year of change with calm, creativity, and good humor. Cassandra Book, who started this year as Associate Director, has been invaluable in every way, and is the force that keeps the Writing Center together. The four assistant directors, Stephen Cohen, Jamila Kareem, Amy Nichols, and Laura Tetreault also were indispensable in helping with the move as well as coming up with new and creative ideas for the Writing Center. Robin Blackett, with the help of our student workers Carine Basenge and Ecasia Burrus, ran the front of the Writing Center with patience and professionalism. All of them are the people who make the Writing Center work, day in and day out, and make it a positive and productive place for the UofL community.
Finally, we are all grateful for the trust placed in us by the writers who came to us to work on their writing. We are always learning from the writers we work with as they learn from us. The reciprocal and collaborative relationship is key to the work we do. I also thank all the faculty and staff who supported our work by recommending us to their students.
We will be open during the summer, starting May 9, from 9-4 every weekday. Meanwhile, take a look at our website and we hope to see you soon.
Other Reasons to Celebrate
In addition to our daily work of teaching of writing through one-on-one consultations, there are other events and activities that we organize, and other plans we are making. 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.
New Writing Center Projects:
Writing Center Events: One reason we are so excited about our new space is that is has allowed us to begin holding events to celebrate and
promote writing in all its forms. Since our move to the first floor we’ve co-hosted an open mic poetry reading with The White Squirrel, writing group meetings in partnership with LGBT Center, a panel on how to get published as a creative writer in partnership with the Creative Writing program, and readings as part of the Celebration of Student Writing. Assistant Director Laura Tetreault led the planning and organization of these events for us. We plan to continue and expand these events in the coming year, so please keep an eye out for announcements.
Graduate Student Writing Groups: We started our first Graduate Student Writing Groups this spring, where graduate students could come and get support for their writing project through conversations and responses from their peers. Our Assistant Director for Graduate Student Writing, Stephen Cohen, will continue to facilitate these groups during the summer. Check out our website for more information.
Art in the Writing Center: We believe that the University Writing Center should foster
student expression in many different forms. So, while we may be in a new location, we’ve continued our tradition of displaying student art in the Writing Center. We put out a call for art across the University and were happy to hang work by Sierra Altenstadter, Paige Goodlett, Jenny Kiefer, Ellen Lattz, Tom LeGoff, Claire Nelson, Cheyenne Nolan, and Jackson Taylor that will be on display at least through the summer. We also are excited to have Tia Wells creating paintings specifically for the Writing Center that we should be hanging during the summer.
Family Scholar House: Amy Nichols, one of the Writing Center Assistant Directors, has been holding regular writing workshops and consultations at Family Scholar House this academic year. Amy plans to continue and develop this work in the coming year as part of exciting plans to engage in more community literacy work.
New Literacy Tutoring Course: We proposed, and had approved, a new English Department course, English 508 – Literacy Tutoring Across Contexts and Cultures. This course will focus on the theory and practice of teaching writing in one-on-one and small group settings and will cover the theoretical foundations of teaching writing effectively in academic, professional, and community settings. Students will explore effective pedagogical strategies for working with writers from a variety of backgrounds in a variety of contexts. Students completing this course will be eligible for internships in community-based settings such as Family Scholar House and the Louisville Free Public Library. We will announce when the course will be offered as soon as we have that information.
Directors’ Day Out: The University Writing Center sponsored the “Directors’ Day Out” professional development workshop for college writing center directors from Kentucky and southern Indiana. Cassie Book wrote about the day’s events in an earlier blog post.
The Growth of Ongoing Writing Center Projects:
Writing Center Website: We expanded and revised parts of our website, such as our Writing FAQs – which are out responses to frequently asked questions about undergraduate and graduate writing – and our resources for faculty who want to develop their approaches to teaching writing.
Faculty Writing Groups: We continued our Faculty Writing Groups to provide support and feedback for faculty writers.
Dissertation Writing Retreats: Our Dissertation Writing Retreats remain popular and we are having the pleasure of seeing 90 percent of the students who attend the retreats complete their dissertations.
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. If you would like to request a workshop, you can contact us through our website or by email.
Support for Distance Education Students: Jamila Kareem, assistant director of the Virtual Writing Center, not only continued to provide online writing consultations for students taking online courses, but also worked to include such students for the first time in the Celebration of Student Writing.
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.
Cassandra Book, Associate Director of the University Writing Center, Co-authored a chapter titled, “Tutor Observations as a Tool for Creating a Supportive and Productive Tutoring Environment,” in the editing collection, Communicating Advice: Peer Tutoring and Communication Practice. Her co-author was with Maureen McCoy, who is on the UofL REACH staff. Cassie also presented at the International Writing Center Association Conference, the Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture, and the Conference on College Composition and Communication.
Stephen Cohen, Assistant Director of Graduate Student Writing, presented at Conference on College Composition and Communication.
Jamila Kareem, Assistant Director for the Virtual Writing Center, published a chapter titled, “The Mogul Ethos and the American Dream in Contemporary Mainstream Rap.” In the edited collection, The Good Life and the Greater Good in a Global Context.
Jamila also presented at the Feminisms and Rhetorics conference, the Workshop for the Transitioning to College Writing Symposium, and the Conference College Composition and Communication, where she was a recipient of a Scholars for the Dream National Travel Award.
Amy Nichols, Assistant Director of the University Writing Center, presented at the Conference on College Composition and Communication. Amy also received the English Department Creative Writing Award for Poetry.
Laura Tetreault, Assistant Director of the University Writing Center, had a coauthored article (with Bruce Horner) titled “Translation as (Global) Writing” accepted by the journal, Composition Studies. She has also had a co-edited book collection (with Bruce Horner )accepted for publication, titled: Crossing Divides: Exploring Translingual Writing Pedagogies and Programs. Laura also presented at the Feminisms and Rhetoric conference and at the Conference on College Composition and Communication.
Emily Blair presented at the Southern Studies Conference.
Rhea Crone has been accepted into the MA in English program at the University of Pittsburgh.
Cheyenne Franklin had her article, “Quintilian Education and Additive Bilingualism,” published in the journal Queen City Writers.
Jessica Good published five articles during her internship at Louisville Magazine in Spring 2016. Jess will also be the Henry James Review Graduate Teaching Assistant next year.
Anthony Gross presented at the Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture and at the Indiana University Comparative Literature Conference.
Jenny Kiefer had her poem, “Between Our Legs: On Women of the Warren County Jail,” published in the journal White Squirrel. Jenny also selected for an editorial internship at Louisville Magazine for Spring 2016 and will be the Assistant Director for Creative Writing Department next year.
Karley Miller received a Creative Writing Scholarship from the Department of English.