Published October 21, 2013
UB’s new Center for Excellence in Writing officially opened this fall in Baldy 209, providing students at every level with a host of resources for working on and improving their writing.
Arabella Lyon, Director of the Center, notes that while there had previously been a number of tutorial services throughout the university, they were not coordinated in such a way as to offer services to UB’s wide range of student writers. “The Center for Excellence in Writing consults with faculty to improve curriculum, staff to further personal and professional development, graduate and professional students to facilitate the completion of theses and dissertations, and undergraduates to prepare them for a rich, communicative life,” Lyon writes. “The Center for Excellence in Writing is committed to fostering the culture of writing across the UB campus and to meeting the needs of all UB writers.”
Among the new resources available in the Center for faculty and students alike are: one-on-one consultations for writers, aimed at improving any stage of the writing process, and for teachers who wish to discuss pedagogical issues; in-class workshops; the “Writing Buddies” project, which groups graduate students by research method to create a working community; and weeklong “Dissertation Boot Camps,” which give PhD students the opportunity to get feedback and make progress on their dissertations.
The Center for Excellence in Writing is vital to the mission of a public university of UB’s size, Lyon writes. “Writing centers support the critical writing that is characteristic of research,” adding, “the work of a research university is knowledge creation, and the high literacy required in epistemic or knowledge-creating writing requires years of work ... Our consultants are committed to making each UB citizen into a writer because we understand there is no critical thinking without writing.” To that end, a typical session at the Center might involve almost any kind of writing project, including academic articles being revised for publication, engineering lab reports, and applications for medical residencies, alongside traditional classroom assignments and research papers. “Our sessions are writer-directed,” adds Lyon. “We want writers to own their work and ideas. Our job is to ask questions that help writers reflect on their writing and see how to revise and strengthen it.”
As the Center for Excellence in Writing settles into its new space in Baldy, it continues to grow, with over 100 student visitors some weeks. Lyon anticipates a further expansion of services over the coming year, such as topical writing workshops, faculty workshops, online consultations, English Conversation Corner, a speaker series, and satellite writing centers throughout the UB North campus.