Event’s keynote speaker and workshop sessions are designed to refine educational professionals’ skills in assigning, teaching and evaluating student writing

BANGOR – Husson will be hosting a day-long conference for writing educators on Saturday, April 29 at the Richard E. Dyke Center for Family Business from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the University’s campus in Bangor. Known as the “Maine Writing Center Gathering,” this conference will provide theoretical and practical information for both writing-center administrators and writing consultants.

This conference will feature a keynote speaker and a subsequent series of informational workshops. These workshops will provide writing center personnel with opportunities to discuss a variety of issues related to developing, running, and marketing an institution’s writing center. The theme for this Saturday’s event is “New Practices: The Writing Center within the Evolving University.”    

“Many students pursuing higher education are nervous or feel unprepared to write at the college level when they first arrive on campus,” said Dr. Matthew Pifer, a professor in Husson’s College of Science and Humanities and the coordinator of the university’s writing center. “These students sometimes need help working through the challenges of writing in different disciplinary contexts and meeting professional expectations. In the Writing Center at Husson University, we work together to improve our students’ written communication skills and forge a path that will lead to professional success.”

The day starts at 9 a.m. with a half-hour continental breakfast. At the end of breakfast, Kristina Powell from The Telling Room in Portland will deliver the keynote address. The mission of this organization is to empower youth through writing and share their voices with the world. As a literary arts program that serves young writers between the ages of 6 and 18, The Telling Room provides school-based and after-school writing enrichment opportunities; both year-round and statewide. They also offer professional development for educators, host acclaimed writers’ public readings, and work with students. The Telling Room has published best selling anthologies of student work, and sponsors community-wide writing projects and events.

The rest of the day will be filled with three different workshop sessions and group discussions. Each workshop will run approximately 75–80 minutes.

The first workshop session will focus on faculty relations. It will examine some of the issues that can arise when writing-across-the-curriculum programs are implemented at educational institutions. Many of the issues non-writing faculty see in student compositions is caused by the poor integration of writing assignments into their courses. Better writing occurs when students understand the writing context. This session will look at ways to help students develop realistic writing strategies and ways to revise drafts into effective final products. Providing constructive feedback to students and the role of the university writing center in this process will also be examined.

Consultant Training will be the cornerstone of the second workshop session. Those who work with students on their writing need to be trained in the strategies and techniques that can help students become better writers. The three stages of consultation – pre-text, text and post-text – and the purposes they serve during the writing process, will all be analyzed. Session leaders will take up the work of Christina Murphy and Steve Sherwood, authors of “The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors.” These authors discuss how these consultation stages not only assist students in improving their writing, but also help create beneficial interpersonal relationships that assist students in building their confidence and growing as thinkers and writers.

After a half-hour catered lunch provided by Husson University Dining Services, the event will begin its third and final workshop session at approximately 1:45 p.m. This session will examine how educators are Making the Center Work. The first half of this session will look at “Marketing the Center’s Services.” Marketing strategies that can help facilitate university-wide workshops and clarify the role of the writing center will be discussed.

The second half of the session will look at how writing centers can develop close ties with writing courses. Success stories about the use of liaison programs and supplemental information that assist students in meeting the expectations inherent in each writing assignment will be examined. This session, called Link with Writing Courses, will also look at the value of developing an institutional writing handbook. The major genres of college writing including: the expository essay, the persuasive/research essay, research reports, proposals, case studies and smaller documents like memos, letters, short reports and informal journals, will all be explored.

“Our goal as writing consultants is to enable clients to think critically and express innovative ideas utilizing the written word,” said Dr. Ryan Roderick, an assistant professor and an assistant dean in Husson University’s College of Science and Humanities. “We’re always looking for ways to better help our clients gain confidence in their ability to craft written and oral communications.

This conference enhances our capacity to do that by creating a forum where writing centers across Maine can gather and discuss the challenges and opportunities we face together.”

Individuals interested in attending this conference should contact Dr. Matthew Pifer at Husson University. His phone number is 207-941-7897 and his email address is piferm@husson.edu.

For nearly 125 years, Husson University has shown its adaptability and strength in delivering educational programs that prepare future leaders to handle the challenges of tomorrow through innovative undergraduate and graduate degrees. With a commitment to delivering affordable classroom, online and experiential learning opportunities, Husson University has come to represent a superior value in higher education. The hallmarks of a Husson education include advanced knowledge delivered through quality educational programs in business; health and education; pharmacy studies; science and humanities; as well as communication. According to an analysis of tuition and fees by U.S. News & World Report, Husson University is one of the most affordable private colleges in New England. For more information about educational opportunities that can lead to personal and professional success, visit Husson.edu.