The Problem of "Opportunity": Negotiating a Writing Center Administrator's Wac(ky) Public Identity
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In his essay, “Writing Centers in the Small College,” Byron Stay explains that the magnified institutional visibility of writing center directors – especially directors on small campuses or directors of new centers – can be problematic and is “not necessarily a good thing” (149). However, he also makes the case that directors can “take advantage of their visibility,” turning it into an opportunity to “incorporate their writing centers into the academic structures of their institutions…especially writing across the curriculum programs” (150). Yet, the line between “problem” and “opportunity” is often tricky to discern, and as a co-founder and co-director of a relatively new campus writing center, I often find myself struggling to figure out how much professional time and energy I want and need to expend when it comes to work that falls outside our writing center’s core mission and day-to-day operations. It’s not uncommon for me to be viewed on campus more as generic writing expert (aka a “writing person”) than a director of a campus center.