Students and staff were invited to the Writing Centre’s 40th Anniversary Celebration Oct. 20.
The Writing Centre is an academic support unit for students, staff, and faculty for written, spoken, and visual communication. They offer support with appointments, drop-ins, workshops, and a variety of learning resources.
Clare Bermingham has been involved with the centre since April 2014 and has been the director since Aug. 1, 2016. She opened the remarks of the event by saying that she is “proud of the energy and passion that drives what [they] do.” She’s been “blown away by the university’s commitment to students, and their pursuit of academic and communication excellence.” She ended her remarks by saying, “It’s been an honour and privilege to support UW students.”
The next speaker was university President Feridun Hamdullahpur, who recognized the event as an important milestone and acknowledged that the centre started 20 years too late. This was in reference to the fact that the university is now 60 years old and it took 20 years for the centre to be established.
Hamdullahpur spoke about the power of communication, “[Being able to communicate properly is] so important. [We are] enabling everyone to understand ideas. If you cannot communicate thoughts in a proper manner then they are almost useless. The Writing Centre’s staff understands the power of communication. I would like to thank everyone for supporting our students so passionately.”
The Associate Vice-President and Academic Provost Mario Coniglio was invited to speak next. Coniglio spoke about some of the resources the Writing Centre offers, and said that the Writing Centre is a prime example of “effective collaboration between all support units on campus.”
The chair of drama and speech communication Jennifer Simpson spoke about the origins of faculty-specific communications courses being created. “In 2013, the math faculty reached out to the arts for communication courses. The outcome was the conclusion that cross-university work is important. While challenging, it is rewarding,” Simpson explained.
Simpson also said that by providing students with effective communication skills the Writing Centre is giving them the “confidence to use their competencies, and that students are becoming aware of what they can do in the world.”
The Associate Dean of Science Barbara Moffatt took the stage to talk about the importance of the centre. Moffat said, “The staff is energetic and student- and staff-centric. Many students have trouble synthesizing information and presenting it in a way that is their own. After the conversation about why certain methods are wrong, we know what they need help with so we can send them to the Writing Centre.”
Bermingham took some time to answer some questions for Imprint. She shared a recent proud moment. “There have been a lot of proud moments. One recent moment that comes to mind is noticing that we had nearly 40 applicants for two co-op positions for the Winter 2017 term … we’ve only been hiring co-op students for a couple of years and we struggled to recruit students at first. Now, students know who we are and the work we do. They seem really excited and enthusiastic about the possibility of working here during their co-op, and that makes me feel like we’re accomplishing our goal of connecting to students in new ways. I should add that all of our exceptional co-op students all say they’ve learned a lot over their co-op terms. That makes me proud too.”
The centre outlines a few goals on the site, but Bermingham has a few of her own as well. “Some of my goals include building the peer tutor program to hire more students through co-op and part-time employment, finding a new space for the Writing Centre that’s more accessible, central, and inviting for students, and engaging students in the Writing Centre.”
For students who have not yet taken advantage of this service, Bermingham said, “I’d like students to know that our staff are friendly, creative, helpful, and encouraging. Our feedback can help students hone in to key parts of their work and give them ideas for future writing tasks. And we can talk about any communication task, from a PowerPoint presentation to an e-portfolio to a graduate thesis.”