The center, which offers free tutoring to MSU students who need help with writing assignments, has recently moved into a big, bright new home in room 1-114 of Wilson Hall, right on the busiest corner of the building.
"One of signature features is an incredible bank of windows that opens up into a gorgeous space," said Kirk Branch, an MSU English professor who is the director of the MSU Writing Center.
Branch said that those who can't quite imagine the words "incredible view" and Wilson Hall in the same sentence will be able to see for themselves when the MSU Writing Center celebrates the renovation with a grand opening set at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31. MSU President Waded Cruzado will officially open the center with a ribbon cutting. There will be tours and refreshments.
The bank of windows is not only a key point of the renovation of the facility. The windows also motivated the new look and expansion of the writing center, which served about 1,600 MSU students last year and is on track to help even more this year, Branch said.
"The center used to be in a tiny, dark boxy room across from the current center," Branch said. "The space didn't invite students. We always had good tutors, but we were always trying to warm up the place. One day, I asked (Linda Karell, former chair of the MSU Department of English) if we could have a window."
Branch said that conversation, about five years ago, led to others, and the idea of enlarging the center was born. Branch went to the Indonesian island of Java on a Fulbright Scholar Award two years ago, and while he was gone, a writing center consultant who is an expert on college writing centers studied the space and gave ideas and recommendations.
In the meantime, the center garnered university-wide support. According to MSU Facilities, the center applied for and received $300,000 from student building fees to put toward the $311,828 remodel. In addition, the center contributed $10,000 from its budget and the MSU Provost's Office chipped in $1,828 to upgrade finishes. In addition, the center applied for money from the MSU reinvestment fund resulting from higher than expected enrollment and received $61,000 a year for three years toward operating costs.
"The center received very visible sign of support of student academics, which is greatly appreciated," Branch said.
Branch said that from the beginning, the intent of the design was to make the center as "uninstitutional" as possible. MSU worked with Intrinsik Architecture to incorporate the design features the center sought for the space.
The center, which is now about 1,000 square feet, is basically divided into a tutoring area and office space. However, the room can be reconfigured for events. Recently, the center hosted a new Writers on Writing program when novelist David Abrams of Butte lectured. The center also hosts Waffles for Writers one Wednesday morning a month, which is free for all.
Branch said currently nine peer (undergraduate) tutors, 12 graduate student tutors and four professional tutors provide writing tutoring to all MSU students free of charge in both the new center as well as in a satellite center in the MSU Library. Branch said he expects the number of peer tutors to grow significantly in the next two years. He said that the center has been exceptionally busy since the center reopened at the beginning of the fall semester.
"We're very excited about opportunities the center is providing," Branch said. "It's definitely a new world for us in the MSU Writing Center."
To learn more about the MSU Writing Center, go to http://www1.english.montana.edu/wc/ or go to the center's facebook page.
Kirk Branch (406) 994-7139, firstname.lastname@example.org