Exponent Explains: MSU Writing Center reaches new heights

The MSU Writing Center has experienced significant growth in recent years. Over the past three years, it has expanded from a small room on the second floor of Wilson Hall to a larger space on the first floor of Wilson Hall and has hired a new director for the center. These changes, among others, contribute to the overall advancement and development of the Writing Center.

The push for expansion began three years ago when Professor Kirk Branch received a Strategic Investment Proposal funding to hire a tenure track Writing Center Director and to strengthen the peer tutoring program for campus-wide impact. Soon after, ASMSU funded a renovation project which resulted in the Writing Center being moved to the larger space on first floor.

A year and a half ago MSU hired Dr. Michelle Miley to fill the position of Writing Center Director. Miley, who was previously the assistant director of writing in the disciplines at the University of Houston, has worked to change the image of the Writing Center. Previously, the Writing Center was seen as a one-on-one resource for writing help which relied on hired tutors and graduate students. Today it has grown into a resource for all students of all skill levels.

Miley believes the Writing Center is a space every student can use: “I really see the Writing Center as being a possible hub for the community of writing that exists on campus.” She wants to see other programs use the resources the Writing Center has to offer. “We’re also able to work with the faculty, developing different assignments and talking to them about how their students are experiencing the writing that they’re doing, so that the conversations about both the teaching and learning of writing can occur and are visible within this particular space.”

The Writing Center is currently looking for tutors from all of the departments on campus and Miley emphasized that students do not have to be English or writing majors to be tutors. She believes working with other departments will greatly strengthen the Writing Center’s ability to serve all MSU students.

A partnership between a family and consumer science class and the Writing Center provides students with the opportunity to work on writing together in small groups. This allows each student help with their writing which large lecture classes generally cannot offer. Writing groups are also offered for classes in geographic information systems, mechanical engineering, political science, writing and history.

Faculty at the Writing Center have also been expanding their voice off campus. Miley, Jess Carroll, the assistant director of the Writing Center, and three student tutors, Kelsey Weyerbacher, Kerry Byrnes and Brooke Hampton, recently attended the 2014 International Writing Centers Association/National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing Joint Conference in Orlando, Florida. Miley gave two presentations and Weyerbacher, Byrnes and Hampton presented as a panel of tutors.

This type of involvement helps the Writing Center develop into a useful resource for all MSU students. The center also offers workshops and “Write With us Wednesdays,” every other Wednesday from 4 – 6 p.m. in the Writing Center, where students are offered time and space to write. The Writing Center’s goal is to create an environment that supports writing in the classroom and the success of all students in their future professions. With the work of Miley and the rest of the staff, the MSU Writing Center is continually working to fulfill this goal.