Negotiating and Redefining the Identity of a Writing Center-in-Flux

Document Type


Presentation Date


Conference Name

East Central Writing Centers Association

Conference Location

University of Notre Dame


When writing centers change administrative and supervisory staff, sometimes the identity of the writing center changes as well. In this session, presenters will discuss how an abrupt pedagogical and administrative personnel shift in a mid-sized university writing center gave the new writing center personnel the opportunity to re-brand the center. Presenters will discuss the ethical concerns that developed when attempting to both define and re-define the writing center. Presenters will draw from the works of Cobb and Kilgore Elledge (1984); Harris (1991); Haviland, Fye, and Colby (2001); Mullin, Carino, Nelson, and Evertz (2006); Lerner (2007); Chewning (2008); and Grutsch McKinney (2013) to situate the discussion among writing center scholars.
Panelists will present the importance of institutional history to writing center administrators, and how this history can affect how the identity of the writing center is defined by faculty and students. The balancing act of maintaining the pedagogical and ethical integrity of the center, while negotiating the institutional and administrative needs of a student support department that may have little or no writing center background, will be addressed as well. Presenters will delineate moves made to rebrand and redefine a center whose position—both physically and institutionally—had become marginalized. Specifically, presenters will describe how supervisory procedures and methods that were primarily maintained orally were recovered and developed into a pragmatic, manageable employee handbook, as well as hiring and training procedural documentation. The definition of paid and unpaid writing center work and the ethics of engaging consultants in social media efforts to re-brand the center will also be discussed. Participants in this session will be invited to contribute to this administrative discussion and should expect to leave with a toolkit to examine and redefine their own centers.


Higher Education Administration

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