The new Director of the Writing Center, Gwendolyn Hale, hopes to broaden the scope of the center and program. Hale began work on Aug. 10, and in a first for the University of Mary Washington, is the director of both the Fredericksburg and Stafford Writing Centers.
Hale has a number of goals in mind to expand the writing center. One of these is to increase the amount of courses, regardless of discipline, that promote writing.
Faculty would select student writing tutors in these courses, known as writing fellows, who would “know the expectations of writing in that discipline” and be able to help other students meet those objectives, Hale explained.
She has also been visiting classes in order to put “a face with the writing center” and demonstrate in person what the Writing Center has to offer.
Additionally, Hale is responsible for starting up the Writing Center newsletter, of which there are currently two published issues.
Hale did not want it “to be hokey like the Christmas newsletter or Christmas letter you get from families,” stating that the real intent behind the newsletter is to “showcase what our tutors are doing outside of just tutoring students.”
Through this, Hale wants to emphasize that these students are multi-faceted individuals and that any student, regardless of major, can be a Writing Center tutor.
UMW students can bring their papers to one of the student tutors, who will help the student organize and edit their work.
A big source of inspiration for Hale was a mentor she had in graduate school, and Hale learned from this mentor that it is important to “create an atmosphere that is welcoming to students.”
Junior Sarah Foote, one of the tutors, recognizes the positive aspects of the atmosphere, saying that Hale “honestly cares about the tutors and the people being tutored.”
Jessica Jefferson, a senior who has been tutored at the writing center, says that Hale was friendly, and that while it is “weird that [the center] is one big room,” she added that “I think it’s inviting so it’s ok.”
Hale is excited to be at UMW, as “the students are brilliant, well-prepared and worldly.”
She added that UMW students “seem inquisitive and adventurous, and I just like that.”
Hale is replacing retired writing center director Jane Gatewood, who worked at UMW for 20 years.
UMW is Hale’s third school, after Fisk University and Savannah State University, where she has been director of the respective Writing Center. She states that she has always “been interested in writing center work,” and ultimately selected UMW because she loves the area, and the school seemed to her to be the “perfect fit.”
Associate Provost John Morello explained why Hale was selected over a number of other candidates, citing the fact that Hale holds a doctorate in English literature, and that her previous involvement with the Quality Enhancement Plan at one of her previous schools was “a plus.”
The center is open during the school week, and appointments with tutors can be made based around a student’s schedule.