Why Writing Centers Work: Address Delivered at the South Central Writing Centers Association Conference, 13 February 2015
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My title contains the first of many generalizations I will issue. I forewarn you that I will be painting with a very broad brush, more like a road roller than a paint roller. That said, I do believe that writing centers do work for the most part, and I take as primary evidence their popularity among those who come to writing centers and the enthusiasm among those who work in writing centers. My experience is confirmed by many surveys that conclude people who visit writing centers are overwhelmingly satisfied. To say that writing centers are usually successful for all involved is not to say that they inevitably succeed; they don’t. The demise of the first writing center at the University of Texas at Austin is one counter example, a center brought down by a lack of staff, low visibility, a miniscule budget, and, decisively, by a lack of administrative support. You know the story. Nonetheless, I hope you grant my premise—that while writing centers are not epiphytes, living only on what they can draw from the air, they still can blossom on the thinnest of soils on rocky cliffs.