MWCA Newsletter 35.1, September 2013


Welcome to the pre-conference edition of the MWCA Newsletter. We’ve got lots of news about openings on the MWCA board, our upcoming conference, important dates, and some summer news from the state consortia and our Antiracism Activism SIG. Look for a fuller newsletter, including photos from the conference, in early winter.

Openings on the MWCA Board

Interested in running?  Or in nominating someone else to run?  Not jogging-running, but running for the MWCA Executive Board.  The election will be held at the open MWCA meeting at lunch on Sat., Oct. 19, at our conference. We will have four seats open this year. Anyone who is an MWCA member may run for the board; interested parties should send a brief biography of themselves to Carol Martin ( by no later than noon on Oct. 15, please.  Self-nominations are perfectly valid; we’ll also take nominations from the floor, but it can be helpful to members to have some information about the people they’re voting on.

What do board members do, and what does being one entail? Board members confer on all issues related to the running of MWCA, setting policies, generating ideas, and putting in the work it takes to implement those ideas and policies. We have a treasurer and a secretary, a chair, a newsletter editor, a research coordinator, and several ad hoc subcommittees (grants and awards, multimedia). All board members read and evaluate grant proposals, award nominations, and conference proposals. The board “meets” in a monthly one-hour phone conference.

MWCA Conference

Our biannual conference runs October 17-19 at the Holiday Inn North Shore in Skokie, Illinois. The Chicagoland Writing Centers Association has done an amazing job on the planning and organization, and it should be a great experience for participants and presenters. Keep an eye on the official conference web site for information about schedules and conference-related news.


If you can do so conveniently, please pay for your registration before October 1. To register, visit your MWCA Profile. And don’t miss out on early bird rates: the deadline is September 20!

Social Media

If you and/or your center does social media, be sure to friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! The hashtag for this year’s conference is #MWCA2013. We will be tweeting out news, useful information for conference-goers, schedules, and handy resources for writing centers.

Upcoming Events and Important Dates

September 9: Deadline for MWCA Scholarship and Travel Grants for this year’s conference. Learn more.

September 12: Nomination deadline for IWCA Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. Learn more.

September 20: Last day to get the early bird rate of $90 for students and $175 for professionals. Learn more.

September 20: Writing Center Professionals of Minnesota meeting. 1:30-3:30 p.m. at St. Cloud State University.

September 26: Milwaukee Writing Center Consortium meeting. 4:30-6:00pm at Marquette University. Contact Margie Mika for more information.

October 3: Greater Kansas City Writing Centers Project meeting to plan next year’s Tutor Retreat and a possible spring event. 3:30 p.m. at La Bodega in Leawood, Kansas.

October 15: Brief bios for MWCA board candidates due to

October 17: MWCA Preconference Workshops and Writing Retreat. Topics for the workshops include high school writing centers, academic resource centers, working with multilingual writers, and writing center research. Learn more.

October 18-19: MWCA conference. Learn more.

October 25: Deadline to submit proposals for the IWCA Collaborative@CCCC in Indianapolis. Learn more.

November 20: Deadline to apply for MWCA Research and Undergraduate Research Grants. Learn more.

MWCA at IWCA_June 2013
L-R: Rachel Holtz, Northeastern Illinois University; Jean Preston, Carthage College; Maryan Wherry, Western Illinois University-Quad Cities; Carol Severino, University of Iowa; and Kate Hahn, Northeastern Illinois University.

MWCA at the IWCA Summer Institute

In June, five MWCA members (pictured right) attended the 11th annual IWCA Summer Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Carol Sevorino of the University of Iowa was one of the discussion leaders for the weeklong session, which also featured Kevin Dvorak, Ben Rafoth, Shanti Bruce, Rusty Carpenter, and Brian Fallon. To learn more, visit the IWCA Summer Institute site.

Call for Contributors (and Contributions)

The MWCA Newsletter is looking for writers and photographers! We would love to begin including interviews with directors, stories about successful projects, spotlights on resources you have developed, and information about your challenges and goals. We’re especially looking for pieces from working tutors who want to share their ideas with the field. If you’d like to contribute, please email Newsletter editor Alan Benson or talk to him at the MWCA Conference in October.

State Consortia News


The Writing Center Professionals of Minnesota met at Carleton College on a very snowy May 3 to discuss time in the writing center.

In honor of the theme, the group took some time to look at its past history, memorialized on a folder that includes the group’s history back to November 2002’s meeting at Macalester College. The next meeting, September 20 at St. Cloud State University, will focus on working with writers online.


Andrew Jeter addresses the Greater Kansas City Writing Centers Project’s 8th annual Tutor Retreat.

On Saturday, August 24, Johnson County Community College hosted the Greater Kansas City Writing Centers Project’s 8th annual Tutor Retreat. Over 120 tutors, directors, and teachers from 14 area schools gathered for a day of professional development, dialogue, and fellowship. Two high schools launching new writing centers this fall, Seaman High School in Topeka, Kansas, and Summit Christian Academy in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, participated for the first time. Peer tutors from area writing centers facilitated over 20 interactive sessions throughout the day, and Andrew Jeter, research director of the Idea Lab at Niles West High School (Skokie, Illinois), gave the keynote address during lunch. The GKCWCP was able to bring Andrew to Kansas City as a result of attaining an MWCA mini-grant. Conference space, lunch, and refreshments throughout the day were made possible by the generous support of Johnson County Community College. GKCWCP members are meeting October 3 at 3:30 at La Bodega in Leawood, Kansas, to review conference evaluations, begin planning next year’s Tutor Retreat, and discuss ideas for a spring event.

South Dakota

The Writing Center at the University of South Dakota held its first-ever awards ceremony Friday, April 19, 2013. The staff of peer consultants voted for each other in an anonymous survey for the following awards: MVC Award (Most Valuable Consultant), Miranda Smith; Brave New Consultant Award, Michelle Corio; Savoir Fair ELL Consultant Award, Lydia Graslie and Jerry Prentice; Above-and-Beyond (Unsung Hero) Consultant Award, Miranda Smith; and Spirit of the Writing Center Award, Courtney Krcil and Pearl Nielsen. We also awarded the Writer’s Choice Award to four consultants who had received the highest percentage of return visits (at least three times) by individual writers combined with the high percentage of favorable ratings from writers: Kristy Kienzle, Alissa VanMeeteren, Pearl Nielsen, and Miranda Smith. Finally, we also presented the Faithful Writer Boomerang Award, with nominations from consultants, to four students who had visited the Writing Center numerous times and impressed consultants with their improved writing/speaking skills.

Lydia Graslie and Gina Mairose, two consultants in the Writing Center at the University of South Dakota, presented on the topics of ELL writing and conversation on April 10, 2013, at IdeaFest 2013, the “annual showcase of graduate and undergraduate student research, creative scholarship, and academic engagement” at USD. Lydia, a graduate student who had spent a year teaching in China, presented, “The Pronoun Puzzle: Addressing Linguistic Differences in Chinese ESL Students.” Gina, a senior double major in English and international studies, presented, “Helping ESL Students in the Writing Center.”

Special Interest Group News

The Antiracism Activism Special Interest Group

Exciting changes have been occurring in MWCA of late, from a new website to expanded research and travel grants. In tandem with the organization’s focus on growth and on serving all members, the MWCA Antiracism Activism Special Interest Group (SIG) is working on permanent status within the organization. The Antiracism Activism SIG, which has met at every conference since 2006, supports MWCA’s three-part mission by…

  • Assist[ing] writing centers in promoting clear and effective writing. Members of the SIG are deeply involved with questions of what makes writing “clear and effective”—clear and effective for whom? for what purposes? in what contexts? Part of the work of the Antiracism Activism SIG is the work of (re)defining academic writing with attention to agency, power, voice, and identity. The SIG’s work complicates—and thereby enriches—the study and practice of “clear and effective writing.”
  • Offer[ing] support to those who are involved in writing center work, particularly if we can agree that part of support is inclusiveness—in other words, the full membership and belonging of all scholar-practitioners. MWCA must be open for and attentive to all of us who are already involved in writing center work—and to all who hopefully join this work. The Antiracism Activism SIG works to create more equitable conditions and foster a racially diverse membership—not only from higher education but increasingly, from high schools and community settings.
  • Encourag[ing] scholarly activities, such as primary/secondary research and presentations/publications of research results. Scholarship on writing centers and antiracism is becoming central to our field, and current and former MWCA members are especially prolific in this area. Recent antiracism-focused award-winning publications in our field include IWCA’s 2012 Best Book winner Writing Centers and the New Racism (featuring the work of current and former MWCA members Frankie Condon [MN, NE], Moira Ozias [KS] and Beth Godbee [WI], Nancy Grimm [MI], and Jane Cogie [IL]) and longtime MWCA member (and founding member of the Antiracism Activism SIG) Frankie Condon’s I Hope I Join The Band, recipient of one of 2013 Top Five “Must Reads” from the Educators Award Committee of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International. Too, MWCA members are active researchers, scholars, and presenters in the burgeoning area of antiracism and writing center work—indeed, we’re especially involved in making it burgeon.

The SIG is a place for developing and nurturing collaborative scholarship and research connections, as well as a way for newer writing center scholars to see the connections between writing center work and antiracism work, and become part of a rich and growing community of writing center researchers committed to this work. We hope that you will join us at the Antiracism Activism SIG meeting, whether you have participated before or are a first-time MWCA attendee.

We will send our proposal for permanent status to the MWCA Board by the end of September; if you would like to read a copy before the MWCA Conference, please email Bobbi Olson ( or Katie Levin (, and they will gladly share it with you. We hope to see and hear from you in Skokie!

—Bobbi Olson and Katie Levin, with Thomas Ferrel, Beth Godbee, Becca Johnson, and Neil Simpkins, Antiracism Activism SIG co-facilitators

See you in Skokie!

Be sure to look for MWCA board members and consortia leaders at the conference!