Back to Work in the Writing Center

Adam Robinson, Associate Director

AdamWe enter this Spring semester with incredible momentum.  Last Fall, we increased our number of consultations (we did 2587 appointments!—200 more than last Fall) as well as our number of in-class workshops (we gave over a 100—almost double from last Fall).  And as usual, our online exit surveys showed high praise from the writers who worked with us.

Traditionally, the Spring semester is slower than the Fall—fewer students are enrolled, activity on campus is slower, etc.  But we have reason to believe that this Spring may be our busiest Spring yet.  In the Fall, we reached out to a number of student services offices and programs, such as TRIO, Family Scholar House, the Cultural Center, and Undergraduate Advising.  I once worked as an academic counselor for U of L’s College of Arts and Sciences, so I know firsthand the incredible impact and influence these offices have on the students who frequent them.  Sometimes students don’t feel comfortable asking their professors for help, but those same students will talk to their advisors and mentors.  For example, last October, I attended a college fair for the Family Scholar House, a support service for single-parent students.  The fair was held at one of the Family Scholar House residence locations, which allowed me to have informal conversations with the students in the program.  Many told me that they knew about the WC but didn’t feel comfortable visiting—some didn’t want to ask for help, others were afraid of criticism.  Being able to talk to them in a non-institutional space made a big difference.   Those working in these programs understand that too—that students need not just information but encouragement seek out help from professors and campus resources.  Our plan is to continue to build partnerships like these.

We have some side projects to work on this Spring, too.  U of L has begun migrating its website to a newer version of Plone (our content management software), a move that will afford all departments and offices more freedom to design custom sites.  We hope we can design a site that meets both the needs of our U of L community members as well as the needs of other Writing Center community members who may visit our site.  And while May is a ways away, we are gearing up for our second Dissertation Writing Retreat (check out our May 30, 2012 blog to learn about our first retreat).  The first one was a great success, and we’ve already received inquiries from interested students who have begun writing their dissertations.

Our main goal, however, is to keep offering excellent tutoring and response to students, staff, and faculty.  I want to personally thank Ashly Bender, Alex Bohen, Nancy Bou Ayash, Sam Bowles, Daniel Conrad, Michelle Day, Tika Lamsal, Scott Lasley, Brit Mandela, Jennifer Marciniak, Amy Nichols, Meagan Ray, Lauren Short, Mandi Strickland, and Katelyn Wilkinson.  Their excellent work is why writers keep coming back for help and why those same writers leave with smiles on their faces.  I’m happy to see all of our consultants again after a long break, and I’m equally excited to see some of our regular clients already returning this year.  And of course, I eagerly await the opportunity to see some new faces too—and hope they become familiar faces.

I want to wish Bronwyn Williams, our director, the best of luck on his Fulbright—he’ll be in England for six months doing important research on literacy.  That leaves me in charge of this place. So perhaps then, a personal goal is to not screw anything up!  I look forward to the challenge.

Finally, I want to send my sympathies to Dr. J Blaine Hudson’s family.  Dr. Hudson served U of L for many years as a professor in the Pan African Studies Department and more recently as the Dean in the College of Arts Sciences.  He died on Saturday, January 5.  Dr. Hudson leaves behind an incredible legacy not only at U of L but also in the Louisville community where he worked tirelessly for others.

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