Wittenberg’s Writing Center was recently certified by the College Reading and Learning Association’s (CRLA) International Tutor Training Program.
“The certification is an acknowledgement of the work we do to prepare our advisors for working with writers, and it can be an excellent line for their resumes,” said Associate Professor of English Mike Mattison, director of the Writing Center. “We can now say that we are a nationally accredited writing center. Quite simply, we've got one of the best writing centers in the country at any level.”
Mattison learned the good news on Sept. 15 following a 10-year lapse in CRLA certification.
“In the past year, one of our alums, Colin Payton '13, who just started his doctoral work in composition and rhetoric at Iowa State, volunteered at the Writing Center in the evenings. One of the tasks he took on was to re-certify us,” Mattison said. “We had support from the Provost's office, and Colin spent several months putting together the application. It is an arduous process, as we need to document all of our training and explain how the activities and readings align with the criteria from CRLA. The certification highlights the rigor of our training process and how our writing advisors have been well-grounded in the best practices of working with fellow students.”
The certification lasts through 2019, at which time Wittenberg will need to reapply.
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.
Originally a grammar lab in 1979 in the basement of the Joseph C. Shouvlin Center for Lifelong Learning, the lab 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 from several disciplines 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 offers an inviting and personal atmosphere where individuals can both develop successful writing skills and foster these skills in others.
“Over the last seven years the advisors have given nearly three dozen presentations at regional and national conferences, and they have received several national grants for their work,” Mattison said. “The Center is one reason that some high-achieving students attend Wittenberg, and it’s a reason that some of them stay here.”
For academic year 2016-2017, the Writing Center conducted 1,436 face-to-face sessions and 282 email sessions, for a total of 2,718 sessions. The sessions were conducted with more than 890 different students, and the Center registered 526 new students, mainly first-year students.
“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.”