Writing Centers Have Flex Appeal

Collaborative Learning, From the Director, Graduate Students, Higher Education, Outreach, Peer Tutoring, The Online Writing Center, Undergraduate Students, Writing Across the Curriculum, Writing Center Research, Writing Center Theory, Writing Centers, Writing Fellows / Monday, January 21st, 2013
"Flexibility." Photo by Jakob Breivik Grimstveit (Creative Commons License).
“Flexibility.” Photo by Jakob Breivik Grimstveit (Creative Commons License).

By Brad Hughes, Director of the Writing Center and Director of Writing Across the Curriculum at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

At many universities, writing centers have now earned significant respect for the work they do with student-writers.  Within that respect, though, almost never do I hear writing centers valued for what I like to call their flex appeal: for the flexible ways in which they meet not just the needs of student-writers who have drafts in hand, but the needs of faculty and of curricula and of institutions and of student groups and of campus communities and of the communities around and beyond a university.  It’s important to note that these fascinating needs and opportunities often surface a week or a month into the semester, so they require a flexible organization–one with talented staff whose time is not already entirely consumed–to respond.

Writing programs and universities are, in fact, largely silent about these critical needs that don’t fit into neat categories, that arise at unpredictable times.  To some extent, that silence is understandable: writing programs and universities necessarily focus on semester-long courses, curricula, theory, staff selection and training, budgets, and assessment.  Carrying hundreds or thousands of students and faculty each semester, writing programs are like aircraft carrier groups or battleships: once moving forward, they’re powerful and impressive, employing lots of people, projecting power in and around the curriculum, but they’re difficult to turn around; they are, in fact, simply not designed to be flexible and responsive to small needs and new opportunities.  (Well, they’re not really like naval ships at all, but you know what I mean.)

Photo from LivingFit.
Photo from LivingFit.

I want to argue that some part of a writing center–if the writing center is beyond its first few years–needs to be structured to respond to new, unpredictable, short-term, or ad hoc needs and opportunities from instructors and programs and the curriculum across a campus and to deliver carefully tailored, flexible, instruction in sites beyond the center.  AND writing centers should trumpet this flexibility and demand to be valued for it.  I know that there are powerful reasons NOT to do this, which I’ll explore in a future post, including a real tension between the drive for status and the flexibility and service I’m calling for.  But there are many more reasons to embrace these opportunities, to structure a program flexibly enough to meet these needs.

By making this argument about writing centers, I want you to know that (for you—only for you) I’m violating one of my sacred principles.  In this post, I’m trying to contribute to what I call the writing center literature of self-justification, something I’ve never wanted to contribute to.  You know the literature I’m talking about.  I haven’t wanted to because there are many good justifications for writing centers in print already.  The other reason I’ve stayed away is that some of that literature is whiny.  In this argument, I won’t be yelling at my colleagues, as much as I admire Stephen North.  I won’t be complaining about third-class status.  And you won’t hear me talking about storehouses or garrets or Burkean parlors or safe-houses, as much as I admire Lunsford and Hobson and Ede and find their characterizations and justifications useful.  I’ll be doing a different kind of justification and exhortation.  I’m overcoming my reservations because I’m persuaded by Michael Pemberton’s argument that “It is important for all people who work in writing centers and think of them as important, effective, and ethical sites for learning to be able to rationalize—for anybody at any time—the benefits of what we do” (“Questioning Our Existence,” Writing Lab Newsletter 19.5 [1995], 8-9).

Some Examples
Let me make this argument more concrete by offering some examples of these needs and opportunities, ones that require flexibility to meet.  I hope you’ll forgive me for drawing examples largely from the writing center on my campus, simply because I know the nuances of these examples best and because our writing center has done these flexible cross-curricular collaborations since its opening in 1969.   I know that you could offer even more examples of flexible, innovative instruction from your centers and your own campuses.

Undergraduate Symposium, UW-Madison. Photo by Jeff Miller, University Communications.
Undergraduate Symposium, UW-Madison. Photo by Jeff Miller, University Communications.

My first example focuses on undergraduate research across the curriculum.  For the past 20 years, my campus, like many others, has made it a priority to involve more and more undergraduates in collaborative research projects with faculty.  To showcase these students and their research, each April my university organizes a day-long undergraduate symposium.  But the student-researchers who participate in the symposium, the faculty who mentor undergraduates and who attend the symposium, and the provost’s office that sponsors the symposium all recognize that these undergraduates have more to learn about squeezing a year’s worth of research into a ten-minute presentation or into a research poster.    Who’s going to help these students, who are doing their research in labs and libraries scattered across the curriculum, learn to present their research more effectively for an April symposium?  Who will help their faculty mentors help prepare students?  Obviously, in some cases, faculty research mentors are well prepared to help students learn to present their research, and will spend the time to do that.  But others need help in doing that.  With the support of a grant from the provost’s office, some of my wonderful former Writing Center colleagues, including Melissa Tedrowe and Andrea Benton, developed materials and workshops to help students prepare to present their research each April.  These materials are available in a web-based form so students who can’t attend the workshops and faculty who have students present research in courses across the curriculum can make use of them.

Here’s a second example, one of many I could use from our Writing Center’s outreach program.  A professor in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences asked our Writing Center to help teach graduate students in that department how to write more effective introductions and literature-review sections of their research proposals, theses, and dissertations.  So in collaboration with this professor, we planned and co-led an hour-long discussion with graduate students about the function of introductions and literature reviews in research proposals and had students analyze the rhetoric of several samples from that field.  After that session, the professor reported that the intros and lit reviews he’d received from his students were generally more purposeful and successful; and from the way the professor and students talked about these genres, it was clear that they’d acquired a different and powerful new level of genre knowledge, a kind of knowledge which research shows is so important for successful writers.

Here’s a third example.  Each year a student organization on our campus, Students for Equal Access to Law Schools—a group committed to providing resources for underrepresented minority students who are interested in the law and in legal careers—asks our Writing Center to develop a workshop on writing personal statements for law school applications and to offer individual follow-up tutorials as students work on drafts.

Here’s a fourth example, about the flexible ways in which undergraduate writing fellows (curricular-based peer tutors) do invaluable teaching across the curriculum.  Faculty across my campus, like yours, I’m sure, do the important but hard work of teaching writing-intensive courses, in all sorts of disciplines, from sociology to political science to gender and women’s studies to astronomy to organic chemistry.  To support faculty and teaching assistants across the curriculum, my colleagues and I have led WAC workshops for 30 years and done individual consultations with hundreds of faculty.  We publish and distribute advice and models for faculty.  These traditional WAC efforts are essential for supporting a strong culture of writing on a campus.  But I’m convinced that some of the best help imaginable comes from having undergraduate writing fellows available to assign to work with student-writers and faculty in these writing-intensive courses, well-trained tutors who travel and who stick around.  Making curricular-based writing tutoring work well is tricky, but well-worth it: writing fellows flexibly share knowledge and influence attitudes and pedagogy; they give faculty advice about assignments and open up dialogue about responding to writing, where otherwise such conversations might not exist.

And a fifth and final example: over the past few years, the School of Social Work at our university has developed a very successful part-time masters program in social work, now enrolling over 250 students in two different cities in our state, Eau Claire and Madison.  Through email instruction and video conferences, our online writing center has developed flexible and popular ways to meet the needs of busy working professionals who are writing many graduate-level papers.

I could go on with examples of responding flexibly to new opportunities–about our summer dissertation camps, offered in collaboration with our University’s Graduate School, and about our Madison Writing Assistance Program, which offers writing consultations to community members at public libraries and job centers in Madison.

The Beauty of What’s Growing Between the Cracks

False pineapple. Photo by Dick Culbert, creative commons license.
False pineapple. Photo by Dick Culbert (Creative Commons License).
Photo by pardonmeforasking (Creative Commons License).
Photo by pardonmeforasking (Creative Commons License).

I love looking carefully at what grows between the cracks; it’s not just dandelions, but oregano and lemon basil, and daisies and false pineapple.  These requests and opportunities are exciting and important and rewarding.  Someone in writing programs should invite and even seek out these opportunities; someone should hear them; someone should respond to them.

Why are these worth doing?  First, they represent important opportunities to help student writers, many of whose needs would not be met by traditional semester-long writing courses or would never seek out individual help in a writing center.  Through these efforts, writing centers also educate and influence attitudes among faculty and can exercise this influence within and around and despite the curriculum.  Stephen North’s point applies to faculty as well as students: “The fact is, not everyone’s interest in writing, their need or desire to write or learn to write, coincides with the fifteen or thirty weeks they spend in writing courses . . .  ” (“The Idea of a Writing Center,” College English 46.5 [1984], 442).  We need to be on the lookout for opportunities to teach, as North describes it, “at the conjunction of timing and motivation . . .” (443).  And there are other synergies and benefits.  From these collaborative teaching opportunities, writing centers develop knowledge that can be incorporated into tutor training and into websites for writers; this knowledge can also influence writing curricula.  These collaborations have a powerful political force as centers build relationships with strong constituencies across a campus.  And they have rhetorical force: engaging in and publicizing this work counters remedial preconceptions.

Despite these benefits, writing centers and universities don’t talk enough about these powerful collaborations.  From some research I’ve done, I don’t think that even writing centers themselves appreciate how important their flexibility and responsiveness are to faculty, institutions, and constituencies.  I’ve asked a sample of writing center directors around the country why they think faculty and administrators value their centers.  I received fascinating, thoughtful answers; but with only a few exceptions, these writing center directors did NOT focus on flexibility and responsiveness to worlds outside the center.

Why don’t writing centers emphasize these kinds of opportunities and these dimensions of their work, why don’t they prize their flex appeal?  I’ve got some thoughts about that, which I’ll share in a future post on this blog or in an article I’m writing about this topic.  In the meantime, what do you think?  Should writing centers be valued for their flexibility?  For their ability to experiment with programs and to respond to needs that pop up?  Does your center meet these and other kinds of needs, ones that are easy for universities to be unaware of or ignore?

18 Replies to “Writing Centers Have Flex Appeal”

  1. Terrific essay, Brad. I love the metaphor of looking carefully “at what grows between the cracks,” and the ways in which writing centers work to nurture those tendrils.

    I think you are correct in saying that writing centers have not yet found a way to emphasize the variety, prevalence, and importance of that work. One danger of not doing so, it seems to me, is that such teaching can (and frequently is) lumped into the general and non-descriptive category of “service.” Given that writing centers must push back against being seen simply as remedial service centers, further representations along those lines are hardly helpful.

    On a more positive note, what you have seem to have done here is identify a whole new program of research for interested scholars. I think there is rich work to be done of the “flex” work of the writing center: what is it, who does it serve, how is it done, why does it matter? These are literacies of the extracurriculum, as Anne Gere put it, and writing centers are in the midst of it.

    Thanks for the essay.

    John Duffy
    University of Notre Dame

  2. Brad, I sure do love the play with language of “flex appeal,” as well as the overall intent. Into my 4th semester as Writing Center Director at Northeastern U., I’m learning quite directly of the demand for such flexible services, whether it’s our Law School wanting specialized workshops or our nursing PhD program looking for support for multlingual grad students or our libraries proposing collaborations around a new digital media commons. Really, the possibilities seem fairly limitless and go very far in our hope to be what North describes as the ‘center of consciousness’ about writing at our university. But the limits to such flexibility (which you tease us will come in a future blog post!) at my institution have to do with budgets and staffing. More specifically, we need to figure out who will bear the cost of these efforts–there’s no free brunch in higher education! So that calls for flexible staffing models and flexible budgets and all sorts of flexiness that many universities have a hard time grasping. On a positive note, on my campus, at least, the conversations about writing support = remediation do not seem to dominate, but the conversation about who will pay for such support is not something we have quite figured out.

    Neal Lerner
    Northeastern University
    Boston, MA

  3. Brad, I love this article! I think part of what I have always loved about working in Writing Centers is this “flex appeal” aspect. It seems a shame to me that the kinds of examples you mention, especially the amazing collaborations between Writing Centers and specific faculty and their courses, happen so haphazardly. Maybe “haphazard” isn’t the right word, since at my campus I am very intentionally seeking out this sort of collaboration with faculty. But such a small percentage of faculty end up actually taking advantage of our flexibility in their own classrooms. I have my sights set much higher! Right now I have some time built into my position to devote to working with individual faculty and developing workshops or materials for their classes. I am sure, however, that if we broadcast our flex appeal much more widely, we will run into the budget and staffing issues Neal mentioned. Promoting (and perhaps putting a value on?) the benefits of this kind of Writing Center work seems especially important during these times where budget cuts and the bottom line are so prized.

    Andrea Benton
    Madison Area Technical College
    Madison, WI

  4. What a great argument, Brad, for cherishing the Writing Center exactly because it lacks the rigidity of the classroom and can sneak, flexibly, in our students’ lives—even when they don’t think they’re going to have to start learning!

    I notice, however, that your list of our flex appeals focus on situations that are somehow formalized: symposia, classroom co-teaching, email instruction, and so on.

    What, though, of the Writing Center’s power to enter students’ lives through less formal means? Our website and Twitter feed spring to my mind (of course), but also the quick chats that can happen at our satellite locations, or the occasional email to our official address asking the Writing Center’s opinion about (to give one recent example) whether “very truly yours” was a suitable closing for a business letter?

    Very truly yours,
    Mike Shapiro
    Online Coordinator, UW–Madison Writing Center

  5. Thanks, Brad, for such a thoughtful post. I especially appreciate your mention that “These requests and opportunities are exciting and important and rewarding. Someone in writing programs should invite and even seek out these opportunities; someone should hear them; someone should respond to them.” Thinking of writing centers as flexible, nimble, and responsive within our large and often inflexible institutions seems to me another important manifestation of our flexible, responsive 1:1 pedagogy. Just as our writing consultants are really listening and responding to the writers who walk through our doors, our centers are doing the same with members of our communities (on campus and off) when we engage in writing center outreach. Without someone to respond and engage with them, how many of our colleagues and students would simply give up? In my experience, the work of writing and teaching with writing is ever changing (and challenging!)– creating opportunities for those engaged in this work to learn together through the kinds of collaborations you describe here.

    Kirsten Jamsen
    Center for Writing
    University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

  6. What an engaging post, Brad! Helps me to understand the principles underlying so much of the good and very diverse work the writing center at UW does. What I love most in the “flex appeal” model is its attention to the everyday literacies that are acting on students’ lives. It’s a way for writing centers to track what is going on, where students are writing, what the demands are, how those are changing. A powerful argument for the writing center’s continued relevance.

    Kate Vieira
    Department of English
    University of Wisconsin-Madison

  7. Great post, Brad! I really like the idea that writing centers need to be set up to accomodate unexpected needs and opportunities, that this possibility for flexibility is something that WCs can offer in ways that curricular-based (as opposed to student-centered) programs simply can’t.

    Two thoughts came to mind as I was reading. First, your post suggests how well writing centers are already positioned to do the kind of just-in-time instruction that Jim Gee has written about and that has been much discussed at the Digital Media & Learning conference and in the new Connected Learning Research Network’s new report from Mimi Ito et al. WC work is a great reminder that connected learning happens offline, not just online — and while, like you, I resist the literature of self-justication, I do think that it can at times be strategically valuable to make those connections between new research and established WC practices.

    Second, I was thinking about how, at a small college like mine, so many opportunities of the type you discuss are handled personally rather than institutionally. A few days ago I ran into one of my colleagues at the grocery store and of course our conversation inevitably turned to the new semester. She told me that she’s planning massive revisions to her Physical Anthropology course (a very popular course that many students take to fulfill a GenEd requirement): she wants to include a lot more writing and a lot more writing instruction, and she wants advice and feedback about how to do that. That’s part of my job, of course! So we’re now planning to meet this summer to talk about that.

    But expanding my work with faculty — something I’d love to do — inevitably means NOT doing something else, because my time is limited. So one of the things I’m working on right now is creating a Student Assistant Director position for our WC (modeled, not surprisingly, on the student assistant directors of UW’s Writing Fellows program) to take on some administrative and outreach tasks in order to free up my time for both ad hoc opportunities and pedagogical/curricular planning — which sometimes turn out to be the same thing.

    Tisha Turk
    University of Minnesota, Morris

  8. What a terrific post, Brad. As someone who’s still new to directing a well-established (but still relatively small) program, the argument you make here really helps me to better understand (by giving me language to describe) various dimensions of work we in the writing center undertake with partners across the university.

    I often find myself torn between two (apparently competing) impulses: to partner with as many folks as ask us to facilitate a rich culture of writing on our campus and (or?!) to make intentional choices about what our central mission is and what we therefore can’t (because of limitations on our time and budget) do.

    This notion of flex appeal–in addition to being a powerful way of talking with our colleagues across the university–might also be a helpful way for me to think about which opportunities, what niches and cracks, our writing center can fruitfully occupy at any given time. Perhaps I’ve had too strict a dichotomy in my head: Things We Do versus Things We Cannot Do (Even If We Want To). Maybe this idea of flex appeal isn’t just about institutional spaces; maybe it can be a way of thinking about temporal spaces and commitments as well. Is there something kairotic about flex appeal?

    And if so, how do we find the balance between maximizing and celebrating the flexibility of what our writing centers are able to do on campus and maintaining a sustainable presence on campus? (We have not world enough and time to be all things to all people, as much as I wish we could.) I know from reading this post that this is something you’ve thought a great deal about, so I look forward to reading more on this subject.

    Thanks, as always, for providing me with a powerful, insightful vocabulary to describe what’s exciting and intellectually stimulating about the work we do in writing centers!

    Rebecca Nowacek
    Marquette University

  9. This is so helpful, Brad! As our center (in its current incarnation) is still quite new, and I’m still meeting colleagues for the first time and explaining what we do, having a way to talk about our ” flex appeal” will be useful and compelling. Come to think of it, I’ve been enjoying this aspect of writing center work–being able to say in almost any situation, “that sounds great! Let’s pilot something.” The key will be maintaining this spirit once we are not so new.

    Thanks for the food for thought!

    Rachel Azima
    Iowa State University

  10. Thanks so much for this post, Brad. I particularly like how you’ve emphasized the generative character of these collaborations. Sometimes when an opportunity for a new collaboration arises just when I’m feeling like we’ve already got one too many balls in the air, I’m tempted to bat it away, worried that it might spread us too thin somehow. While that is, of course, a real concern for many busy and thriving writing centers, it’s good to remember that these opportunities are often like little dynamos that actually generate energy and enthusiasm. I count this among the other “synergies and benefits” you mentioned that attend these collaborations. The flex appeal you describe here seems to be one more manifestation of the awesome power of spontaneity that lies at the heart of so much of our good work–from Tisha answering “yes” to the faculty member at the grocery store to the tutor providing real-time response to the writer at the table, we’re here to RESPOND to writers. Thank you for writing this!

    Matthew Capdevielle
    University Writing Center
    University of Notre Dame

  11. Brad, I love this celebration of the ways that the Writing Center can bend towards particular needs! And the ensuing discussion about how to maintain enough tensile strength not to snap into fragments–in other words, how to be open to new possibilities without over-stretching resources or sacrificing core mission.

    It strikes me as immediately clear that “flex appeal” is a great way to promote the Writing Center. But I just want to add that it gives me even more language for describing the reasons *I* love working in the Writing Center–it’s always new. Flex appeal is a huge part of the reason that I think our staffs are so wonderful. We attract people who like developing new projects, and who are energized by facing new challenges. There’s no such thing as getting comfortable in the Writing Center, and I love that! We’re a dynamic, flexible institution that meets a variety of campus needs, but we’re also an incredibly stimulating place to work, where a tutor/administrator can be constantly stretching (or flexing!).

    Jessie Reeder
    Assistant Director
    UW-Madison Writing Center

  12. Two great things about reading Brad’s article: 1.) the very smart arguments he makes and how he gives everyone involved in Writing Center work new ways of thinking and talking about what we do (as well how we can continue to grow and evolve), and 2.) the extremely smart comments that everyone else makes in response to Brad’s article.

    In terms of some of the specific ways that Writing Centers can demonstrate flex appeal, it was gratifying for me to see some of the ways that we at Suffolk are doing some similar initiatives as UW’s Writing Center, e.g. offering workshops and individual tutoring to McNair scholars, a program designed to prepare first-generation college students for graduate school. And of course, and I’m guessing I may speak for others, it’s always humbling to read about the many initiatives at UW’s Writing Center that we’re NOT doing…

    In terms of the comments made by others, it was comforting for me to read how so many feel the tension involved with our flex appeal. Of course we are thrilled when someone asks us to undertake some new initiative; people involved in Writing Center work always want to help those who take writing seriously. At the same time, how do we accomodate these requests without spreading ourselves too thin? I think Neal makes a compelling and persuasive argument about institutional resources, and the need perhaps for more flexible budgeting procedures to accomodate our flex appeal.

    But of course, Brad will answer all of our questions in his future post!

    Thanks very much, Brad, for providing me with this new way of thinking and talking about what we do Writing Centers. And thanks to all for your comments. Very much looking forward to the future article on this subject.

    Bryan Trabold
    Interim Director, Writing Center
    Suffolk University

  13. I was going to read and comment on this very smart post earlier, but then our Distance Learning Center told me we needed an online writing center by March.

    I know that sounds like the punchline to a joke about this topic, but it’s actually not. It’s really happening. Thus, to say the ideas you have put forward here are timely is an understatement, Brad!

    I know that I often find myself feeling torn when faced with such opportunities–and I do see these moments largely as opportunities. I want to show that our writing center can do anything, help anyone, that we are a true university-level player. I know at least part of this stems from the fear that if I say no to something, a unit or department will bypass the writing center and we’ll “miss our chance” to make a positive in-road somewhere. What I’ve tried to do more recently is to say yes but with some qualifications. “Yes, I think we can pilot an online writing center by March, but the funding will need to come from other sources than our budget.” As academics, I suspect the businesslike nature of this approach sometimes feels distasteful to us. But I try to remind myself that those moves are what moves the Center forward while keeping it secure.

    What I hope Brad tells us in his next installment on the “flexiness” of writing centers is how to make the most of this very valuable characteristic. I want to know not only why we don’t emphasize it more but also how to best emphasize it, how to use it as capital for our future endeavors.

    Thanks for helping us think about this Brad.

    Mary Lou Odom
    Director, KSU Writing Center
    Kennesaw State University

  14. Brad, this is truly a brilliant post. You’ve highlighted an aspect of writing centers that we all know should offer much needed opportunities for writing centers to grow a culture of writing on campus. And the comments indicate how you’re energizing others to seek out these collaborations. But of course, we all immediately wonder how we will find the time and resources to fold this into our responsibilities. However, your examples are so effective because they suggest to others ideas for developing proposals to get the needed resources. (The “if we only had x resources, we could do a and b and c,” made more effective by selling the concept to a dean who becomes invested in it as his/her project.) And an added benefit is the educational and professional growth of the people who develop the materials and lead sessions.

    One suggestion for those who are interested in this way to “grow” our writing centers is to find a frame for this. Yes, I’m far too enamored of George Lakoff’s books and essays about the power of great frames. But I wonder, for example, if we look around for terms that speak powerfully to groups outside our world. Personally, I find the concept of “flex” to be spot on, but what about frames such as “interdisciplinary collaboration” projects which involve the flexible projects such as you describe? “Interdisciplinary” seems to make some administrators and grant givers salivate. So I’m wondering about the power of something like that as a frame in which to gather faculty requests and shape the flex projects into interdisciplinary collaboration projects. But surely there are better frames than that….anyone? anyone? 😉

    Mickey Harris
    (happily retired Writing Lab Director and Professor Emerita from Purdue U.)

  15. Terrific post, Brad. It was also great to read all the comments. I liked what you said about appreciating what grows in the cracks. It’s important to figure out how to talk about and how to appreciate the dynamic, provisional, and spontaneous. I feel like this is a challenge in other fields, too. We know that it is important to think outside disciplinary boundaries, but we also want to think about events/experiences that are outside the routine or habitual.

    A writing center is a wonderful place! The CUNY Grad Center would be a better place if it had one.

    Shifra Sharlin
    CUNY – Graduate Center

  16. Two thoughts inspired by your post:

    1. Your apology for providing examples from your own campus reminded me of Henry David Thoreau’s disclaimer in Walden for writing so frequently in the first-person: “I should not talk so much about myself if there were any body else whom I knew as well.”

    2. Your description of the need and benefits of a small, flexible organization reminded me of the term David Krakauer, director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID), used to describe the model for how the WID needs to operate: as a skunkworks (a term used in business and technology industries to describe a highly autonomous group within an organization free from typical constraints or expectations and tasked to pursue various projects).

    Flex appeal sound more, uh, appealing than skunkworks appeal, so thanks for the new terminology.

    David Stock
    Brigham Young University

  17. Thanks for a great post, Brad! As others have said eloquently, you’ve given us a vocabulary for talking and thinking about a feature of Writing Centers that has been difficult to name.

    Your post gives us license and incentive to think creatively about budget requests. Might we advocate for a “flex fund” so that we can respond to “critical needs . . . that arise at unpredictable times?”

    At the least, I’ve found it helpful to keep a “missed opportunities” list so that I can speak specifically about what our Center could do with more resources.

    Can’t wait for the article!

    Jody Cardinal
    Director, Writing Center
    SUNY College at Old Westbury

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