By Savannah Prochnow
Almost fifty-five years ago, the University of Wisconsin–Superior opened a laboratory for students partaking in the institution’s English Program. This lab was referred to as the Wisconsin State University–Superior Writing Lab, and its purpose was to assist students with their writing skills and comprehension. Unlike traditional study halls and classrooms, the laboratory was a place where students could receive free, unreserved advice from tutors, about their assignments and projects.
Now renamed The University of Wisconsin–Superior Writing Center, the so-called “laboratory” continues to operate to this day. However, many industrial, technological, and employment-related changes have occurred over the decades. These changes have drastically influenced the way the Writing Center operates, and has resulted in many modifications and adjustments.
Yvonne Rutford, the Writing Center’s current director, has witnessed the Writing Center’s evolution over the course of her employment at UW-Superior. “We did everything by hand back then,” Rutford recalled during an interview. “The appointment sign-up sheets were paper sheets posted on the bulletin board outside the door, and all our client reports were written up by hand.”
With the assistance of technology and the Internet, the Writing Center has been able to establish an online platform in recent decades. This platform has allowed the consultants who work at the Center to assist students who live outside of Superior, as well as students who have difficult or challenging schedules.
The online platform has also allowed the Writing Center to keep track of their clients, consultations,
and data in an orderly, modern fashion. In 2020, in response to the development and spread of COVID-19, UW-Superior’s on-campus Writing Center cancelled all face-to-face appointments and consultations. “Our operation moved entirely online, and still remains so,” noted Rutford. “Our consultants were already well trained in working with clients online, so that transition was smooth.”
Though the Writing Center is well accustomed to servicing students remotely, the Center’s employees, according to Rutford, “miss being in the physical space in Swenson Hall.” With the re-opening of the on-campus Center, it is likely that new job openings and opportunities at the Writing Center, will become available to UW-Superior students. “Our staff consists typically of nine writing consultants,” explained Rutford, “and with graduations, we typically have to hire one, and often more, consultants every year.”
Due to UW-Superior’s decision to employ undergraduate students as consults, the Writing Centeris considered to be, by many students and staff, a student-run organization. “We want tohire people who are interested in working with their peers, are strong writers, and arestrong communicators,” said Rutford.
UW-Superior students who meet the Writing Center’s requirements for employment, are regularly encouraged to apply through Handshake.