A Resource Reborn: Changes in the UWC

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Passersby can’t help but be impressed by the new Student Success Center (SSC) and the myriad resources it offers to simplify students’ lives. The SSC boasts five impressive floors that contain the Student Health Center, a food court, and classrooms so epic that they are collectively called the EPIC Center (Enhancing Pedagogy through Innovative Classroom Center)—not to mention the Learning Centers’ facilities.

On the first floor of the SSC is a spacious area that houses the Science and Math Learning Center, English Language Learner Services, Peer Assisted Study Sessions, the Communication Center, and the University Writing Center. For the UWC, this move to a more accessible location has drawn many more walk-in writers than in past years, causing changes to the philosophy and style of tutoring sessions. The added foot traffic in the building also means that students will be more likely to visit the revamped Writing Center.

The new location emphasizes openness and offers many locations for students and tutors to interact. The reception area helps to guide arriving students through the registration process and lets them know where to go. This year, the UWC also has a staffed receptionist during most hours who can answer questions and direct lost students to their destinations.

Tutees who bring a meal to their session, or perhaps a coffee and pastry from the nearby Dunkin Donuts, can have a seat in the entryway of the UWC, where booth-style seating is available. Tutees who aren’t eating are invited to work at one of seven large tables in the main UWC space. If the office chairs aren’t cutting it, another area features easy chairs, a table, and easy access to a whiteboard for instruction. Additionally, three cubicle workstations along the wall provide more privacy in a consultation. For full privacy, or to accommodate group tutoring, there are study rooms along the back wall that are flush with the windowed-offices of the Graduate Assistants and faculty.

Beyond the various tutoring spots, there are many tools available in the new center to facilitate learning. As always, there are bookshelves brimming with resources on composition and editing, as well as computers and a printer for open use. However, unlike the old Wilson Hall location, some tables are outfitted with charging ports that students can use for laptops and other electronics to sustain long writing sessions. For displaying documents with large groups, there is an 80-inch large-screen TV that replaces the SMART Board from the Wilson Hall location. These are the resources available inside the UWC, but if one looks just outside the doors, there are even more computers and work stations available.

It isn’t just the UWC location that has gotten a whole new look—so have the tutors. With the change of environment, and the need to distinguish UWC tutors from the other talented tutors in the area, the writing tutors now wear a brand-new UWC uniform: a forest-green polo featuring the UWC logo.

The Writing Center has come a very long way in its forty-year history, and the new location is another notable step on JMU’s road to having one of the best writing centers in the nation. In recognition of this monumental change, the following timeline displays the evolution of the center since its inception in 1974:

Those hungry for more information can read Learning Centers Director Kurt Schick’s article “An Evolving Writing Center, 1974–2011” that informed this timeline. Happy writing.

- Rudy Barrett, Peer Tutor

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Published: Sunday, November 23, 2014

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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