University Writing Center will move to Perry-Castañeda Library

Eleanor Dearman

In 2014, the University Writing Center provided 11,105 one-on-one writing consultations for undergraduate students in only 1,500 square-feet of space. 

The center’s tight quarters are one of the motivators for its decision to move to the ground floor of the PCL come next fall. Patricia Roberts-Miller, director of the Center, said the move to the PCL will give students easy access to the Center and to research resources. She said it will also allow for growth in employment and programing, including more resources for graduate students.

Mary Hedengren, an associate director at the Writing Center, said the space has become too small for its clientele. “This space really can’t handle it,” Hedengren said. “Especially at our busiest times you’ll see every table taken. Our back room will be full of people coming in and out. It’s a lot.”

The Writing Center receives about $670,000 from the College of Liberal Arts to fund its services, and $439,602 of that total is given back to student workers in wages.

The Center tracks the number, classification and major of students receiving consultations through the surveys it distributes after each session. Consultations are recorded and evaluated using the surveys, which ask questions regarding the satisfaction and productivity of the visit.  

The survey results are used to create an annual report that the center uses to adjust its services and gage its successes and shortcomings.  

“One of the things that is really important is getting a sense of who we serve,” said Alice Batt, program coordinator for the Writing Center. “Who is coming in? When we get that information we can think better about what we can do to support them better.”

Nicole Troup, international and global studies sophomore, said that she has gone to the Writing Center for almost every writing assignment in college and only ever had one negative experience in a consultation.

“Just because you had a bad experience one time, I don’t think that should prevent anyone from going back again,” said Troup.

The Writing Center employs 33 undergraduate consultants and 51 graduate consultants. All undergraduate consultants must complete the Writing Center Internship course, which John Ruszkiewicz, English and rhetoric and writing professor, teaches.

Ruszkiewicz said once the Writing Center evaluates survey results, and makes changes to procedures based on that feedback, he alters his course to adjust to the new policies.

“It’s those policies and procedures quite often designed to make consultations better — more effective, more sensitive — that then become part of my course,” Ruszkiewicz said.

The most recent annual report found that, while students from most colleges use the Writing Center, liberal arts and natural sciences students use it most often. Those colleges make up 23 and 21 percent of the Writing Center’s business, respectively.

 In order to address this variance of majors using the center, Roberts-Miller said she is hoping to double the amount of workers from different majors once they move into the new space.

“We’re operating at capacity for most of this semester, but we would like to get a lot more students working here who are from the sciences, for instance,” Roberts-Miller said. “We’d like to be a lot more diverse in the kinds of consultants.”

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the size of the University Writing Center. It is 1,500 square-feet of space.