August 5, 2010

IWCA Summer Institute

I (Elizabeth Nesius) attended the International Writing Center Association Summer Institute last month, held in Lone Wolf, Oklahoma.

This annual, 6-day summer workshop is sponsored by the International Writing Center Association and is designed and led each year by a variety of writing center administrators from around the world. This year's institute was led by Michele Euodice of the University of Oklahoma (the host institution), Geneva Canino of the University of Oklahoma, Dan Emery of the University of Oklahoma, Kristen Garrison of Midwestern State University, Roberta Kjesrud--president of the IWCA, Dawn Mendoza of Dean College, Tara Nielsen of the University of Oklahoma, Moira Ozias of the University of Oklahoma, Ben Rafoth of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Karen Rowan of California State University-San Bernardino, Lori Salem of Temple University, and Nathalie Singh-Corcoran of West Virginia University.

It focuses on development for writing center administrators, with sessions covering all aspects of running a writing center, including writing center missions and philosophies, budgets, tutor training, diversity and writing centers, assessment, research, and writing center marketing. In addition, time is given each day for writing center personnel to come up with plans of action to implement new ideas in their own centers, for research and writing, and for special interest group discussions (SIGs).

This intense workshop is a great opportunity for new writing center administrators to learn from seasoned directors and for the more experienced to get new ideas and recharge. It also provides the ability to network and make lasting connections with other writing centers and writing programs around the world.

I left the workshop with a notebook full of ideas and plans for how to put many of them into action. Some of the sessions I found most useful were the ones on marketing a writing center, research, assessment, and tutor development. Because our Center is still somewhat new--only 2 years old--and because of the nature of our program, marketing is a little bit difficult. However, I have plans for brochures, a writing contest, and a reading on the National Day on Writing. While there, I also developed a new student survey to assess not only student satisfaction but also their understanding of the writing process, and I added some new material to our online tutor training module in Blackboard. I also came home with a long bibliography of new books to order for my Center and some great links for our website.

The International Writing Center Association is an organization that brings together and offers professional development opportunities to writing center personnel around the world. For more information about or to join the IWCA, go to

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