Creating Writers For Life

Connecting Writers and Readers

The Wittenberg Writing Center plays a key role in enhancing and validating the importance of writing across every class, person and career.

What originally opened as a grammar lab in 1979 in the basement of the Joseph C. Shouvlin Center for Lifelong Learning was soon passed into the hands of Professor of English Mimi Dixon and Maureen Fry at a time when Wittenberg's Writing Across the Curriculum Program was in bloom.

Originally named The Writer's Workshop, the space maintained its independence from any one particular academic department, a rarity among writing centers at the time, and began to grow in its role as a positive, supportive environment in which writers could feel free to take risks and explore their thinking and writing process. In 2000, the Workshop moved to its current space in Hollenbeck Hall and was renamed The Writing Center.

Currently, student writing advisors provide consultation for all Wittenberg students, staff, and faculty engaged in all types of writing (and writing instruction) at all levels of ability. The Writing Center also offers an inviting and personal atmosphere where individuals can both develop successful writing skills and foster these skills in others.

"The Center has been around for 36 years, and the advisors have accomplished an awful lot - it's a place of research for undergraduates as well as a support service for writers," said Mike Mattison, director of the Writing Center and recent recipient of the 2016 Ron Maxwell Award for Distinguished Leadership in Promoting the Collaborative Learning Practices of Peer Tutors in Writing. The award recognizes a professional within the organization for dedication to and leadership in collaborative learning in writing centers, for aiding students in together taking on more responsibility for their learning, and, for promoting the work of peer tutors.

"Over the last seven years," said Mattison, "the advisors have given nearly three dozen presentations at regional and national conferences, and they have received six national grants for their work.

The advisors represent a range of disciplines, too, from biology to political science to history and even mathematics.

Writers need readers, and the Writing Center provides just that. We constantly tell students that we are not here because they can't write, but because they do.
Mike Mattison, director of the Writing Center

"The Center is one reason that some high-achieving students attend Wittenberg, and it's a reason that some of them stay here," Mattison added.

Throughout the years, even as the workshop underwent several major revisions, one critical element hasn't changed: it remains a space in which students with diverse perspectives come together as writers and advisors to talk about writing at every stage of the writing process.

"There is perhaps nothing more valuable to a writer than the chance to talk with a reader who is focused on the piece of writing," Mattison said. "Writers need readers, and the Writing Center provides just that. We constantly tell students that we are not here because they can't write, but because they do."

For academic year 2015-16, the Writing Center conducted 2,548 face-to-face sessions and 425 email sessions for a total of 2,973 sessions, encompassing more than 900 different students. This number is in line with previous years. The goal each year is to conduct more than 2,500 sessions.

In the past year, six advisors in the Writing Center had pieces published in The Dangling Modifier, an online international newsletter by and for peer tutors in writing, published out of Pennsylvania State (Penn State, State College, Pa.). In addition, and because of the work of the advisors above, Wittenberg has been asked to guest edit the Spring 2017 edition of The Dangling Modifier. Mattison said that this "should be an excellent opportunity for the students to design a theme, solicit essays, and work with authors."

"The best part is the true academic challenge and opportunity that comes with reading papers in every department at this school," said Audra Hendrix, a former advisor originally from Arizona. Hendrix is a biology major who will graduate from Wittenberg this May, but is currently studying occupational therapy at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. as part of Wittenberg's elite 3-2 program.

"To be able to assess and communicate effectively about material I have sometimes never even heard about before takes some confidence, skill, and (dare I say) improvisation," she added. "To process new material quickly and efficiently enough to respond to a writer on many different levels is a challenge like no other; however, it is also an opportunity without compare. Advisors have a sneak preview into more classes than anyone else on Witt's campus. Thus, our work has given us the chance to experience a true liberal arts education. I've been lucky enough to be able to explore thoughts and ideas that I may not have otherwise come across alongside people who are prepared to have true academic discussions on their topic. For this, I am proud to have had a role in this wonderful field of work."

Equipped with sharpened skills for critical thinking, collaboration, and conversation, advisors have been accepted to law school, medical school, graduate school, Teach for America, the Peace Corps, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and teaching positions at all levels and around the world. In all of these pursuits, they have been able to connect the work they've done in the Writing Center with what they will be expected to do in their new positions.

"The Writing Center helped me refine my writing and editing skills and to recognize the importance of clear communication," says Eric Rusnak '00, who worked in the center while a student. Rusnak is now an intellectual property lawyer at K&L Gates, LLP. The company represents technology companies in patent infringement matters.

For nearly 40 years, the Writing Center has been an integral part of Wittenberg, connecting writers and readers in collaborative endeavors to produce the best possible writing.

The Writing Center helped me refine my writing and editing skills and to recognize the importance of clear communication.
Eric Rusnak '00

Many Wittenberg alumni have been inspired to author books and other publications throughout the years. Here is a list of some of the pieces alumni have completed:

Kenn Grimes '60
Strangled in the Stacks
The Other Side of Yesterday
Camptown: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Stories from Camptown, Kentucky

John D. Holm '60 
Botswana Essays: Four Decades of Immersion in an African Culture (Amazon, 2016)

A. Harding Ganz '61  
Ghost Division: The 11th "Gespenster" Panzer Division and the German Armored Force in World War II (Stackpole Books, 2016)

Linda Steffel Olson '70
Co-author - The Long Shadow: Family Background, Disadvantaged Urban Youth, and the Transition to Adulthood

Sheryl Kandel Loeffler '71
A Land in the Storytelling Sea (FARAXA Publishing, 2014)

Judith Merkle Fertig '72
Bake Happy (Running Press 2015)
Co-author - Bistro BBQ (Running Press, 2015)
The Cake Therapist (Penguin Random House, 2015)

Terence "Terry" Hermsen '72
The River's Daughter - co-recipient of the Ohio Poet of the Year Award in 2009

Hal B. McLean '73 
Co-author - The Enduring Organization: How Leaders Revive and Sustain Relevance (Advantage 2015)

Timothy H. Phelps '75 
Nature Mandalas: Life Circles of Biodiversity and Conversancy in two volumes: Wonders of the Garden and Wonders of the Earth, Wind, and Sea

Robert L. Moseley '76
Out of Bounds

Tanya West Dean '79 (pseudonym: Tanya Anderson)
Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg (Lerner Publishing Group)
Gunpowder Girls: The True Stories of Three Civil War Tragedies (Quindaro Press, 2016)

Eric Olsen '79
Co-author - America's Most Haunted: The Secrets of Paranormal Places

A. Van Jordan '87 
The Cineaste - finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award
Rise (2001)
M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A (2005)
Quantum Lyrics (2007)

Kenneth N. Cukier '91 
Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think

Andra Kollat Gillum '91 
Doggy Drama

Amy Ray Hutchins '92 
The Devil's Swing

Kate Kingsley Lund '94 
Putter and the Red Car

Anne E. Ford '96 
A Friend That I Can Do For
Peaceful Places of Chicago

Shakeeer Abdullah '99
Baptism by Fire: An Investigation of the Experiences and Multicultural Competence of Diversity Staff in Higher Education

Brandy Schillace '00 
The Jacob Maresbeth Chronicles

Eric Shonkwiler '06
8th Street Power & Light (MG Press, 2016)
Moon Up, Past Full (Alternating Current Press, 2015)
Above All Men (MG Press, 2014)

Christine "Kiki" M. Schirr '08
"Introduction: The Story of Anna Walden" - short story published in Shimmer

Anna Beach '11
How to Fly with Rocks in Your Pocket

Recitation Hall
University Communications Staff
Staff Report

About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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