Writing Center celebrates 40 years of supporting students

Since its establishment in 1977, the MU Writing Center has experienced continued growth and become more accessible to students. In fact, over the last three academic years, the Writing Center has served approximately 42,000 students and faculty.

“Last year, we saw the highest number of contacts in our 40-year history.” Rachel Harper, the Writing Center Director, says.

Harper partially credits the increase to accessibility. The Writing Center has expanded its locations and now has a presence in multiple residence halls, Ellis Library and Athletics, in addition to its primary location in the Student Success Center.

Writing Center
The Writing Center is located in the Student Success Center.

“I think one of the great things about the Writing Center is that we serve everyone,” Harper says. “Because we’re centrally located and centrally funded, and because we have continued to grow in both locations and types of support, we’ve managed to meet students where they are.”

Aaron Harms, who manages the Online Writery of the Writing Center, says the online component is more utilized than ever before, accounting for two-thirds of the contacts for the Writing Center. When the Online Writery was established in the 1990s, it was built for specificity, which allows tutors to help students with a particular project rather than general writing advice.

“We have a finite amount of space for face-to-face appointments, but (the Online Writery) is almost the same as a face-to-face appointment,” Harms says. “So we encourage students to submit online; that way we don’t have to turn anyone away.”

In the 2016-2017 academic year, the Writing Center served 15,412 people, growing approximately 14-percent from 2015-2016.

“There are a lot of myths with the Writing Center,” Harper says. “We don’t simply correct or edit a student’s essay. We give substantial feedback on the writing, such as structure or use of research. Part of our tutors’ job is to ask a lot of questions, be a smart mirror and help students strategize on the options available to them as writers.”