As Centre for Writers’ Academic Director, I perform the following tasks on a regular basis:
- Budget: Manage a budget of approximately $200,000. Budget and forecast for the Centre for Writers cost centre. Oversee all expenditures. Within budget capacity, provide opportunities for both professional and personal development of staff.
Databases, statistics, and feedback (client tracking): Keep track of Centre for Writers usage and statistics, as well as client feedback through tutoring session feedback forms and tutor alumni surveys.
- Communication and promotion: Oversee publicity and program announcements (brochures, posters, website, emails to faculty/students, etc.). Assist in the development of promotional material and involve staff in regular marketing brainstorming sessions. Keep lines of communication open with the university community. Promote a positive image of the services offered according to the character and mission of the University of Alberta.
- Policies and mission statements: Create policies and procedures to guide the work of tutors. Create and update mission statements and Q&A’s about the Writing Centre’s principles and goals.
- Recruitment: Publicize services, courses, and training workshops through university list-servs and other targeted publications. Create recruitment materials. Recruit potential writing centre tutors and student tutors from a wide variety of faculties and departments.
- Hiring: Draft internal and external postings. Select, test, interview, and hire 30-60 undergraduate and graduate peer-writing tutors per semester. Hire new Administrative Assistants when necessary.
- Website and online services: Oversee the management and update of the Centre for Writers’ website (Sitecore 3) and WConline (online registration program). Oversee the Centre’s asynchronous online tutoring services. Stay current with online tutoring and/or course management software and incorporate new technology as appropriate.
- Program assessment: Assess all Centre for Writers-related programs and services every semester.
- Reporting: Compile annual reports to send to the Department of English and Film Studies, the Faculty of Arts’ dean, the Provost’s office, Writing Studies, the University Writing Committee, and other constituencies.
- Confidentiality: Serve as first line contact in dealing with Centre for Writers faculty, staff, and/or student problems. Maintain the high level of discretion and confidentiality that is expected at this level of responsibility.
- Supervision: Supervise, coordinate, and approve the work of 30-60 tutors and Administrative Assistants.
Mentoring: Hold consultation hours to support peer tutors and offer advice on different academic/professional/personal issues. Refer tutors to educational and professional resources that would aid them in reaching their goals. Encourage tutors to develop skills (e.g., presenting papers at conferences, applying for grants) that will help them become better students, tutors, and professionals. Write letters of recommendation.
- Evaluation: Monitor and evaluate work performance of all employees to ensure productive work practices. Work with staff to update office procedures and improve efficiency. Provide on-going support as well as formative and summative evaluation to 30-60 peer writing tutors every semester
WORKING WITH CLIENTS
- Students: Ensure a supportive environment for individualized, developmental, and also second-language writing instruction and support. Create policies and procedures that complement the instruction and progress of students. Respond to problems and needs daily. Organize open doors days and other opportunities for students and faculty members to meet and talk with the Centre for Writers staff.
- Special needs: Understand the importance of special programming for at-risk clients within the academic population and respond to the needs of these students (students with physical, cultural, linguistic, or learning differences, first generation students, etc.). Work with different constituencies to improve individualized services.
- Graduate students: Coordinate with Deans and graduate faculty to create new services as necessary, such as graduate writing groups and workshops.
- Faculty members: Coordinate creation, preparation, and delivery of all individualized in-class presentations and workshops to graduate and undergraduate students. Support faculty efforts to teach and improve writing by consulting with them about situations that arise in their classes (plagiarism, underprepared students, students with special needs, etc.).
- The university: Join and participate actively in a number of department, faculty, and university-wide committees. Share research findings with different departments and faculties. Work with Faculties and departments to create new services as needed.
TEACHING AND TRAINING
- Tutor education: Create, plan, and lead full-day training sessions at the beginning of each semester, as well as bi-weekly staff education meetings. Organize special opportunities for faculty members and other university staff to converse with the Centre for Writers’ staff about the needs of their students and their perceptions of the Centre for Writers.
- Teaching and course development: Provide training for future tutors and educators through the Writing Studies 301/603 course. Supervise, observe, and evaluate students’ practicum hours in the Centre for Writers for four hours a week over eight weeks. Develop and teach writing courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Disseminate research and best practices in writing theories and second language writing; promote peer tutoring, writing scholarship, and teacher education.
- Workshops, presentations, and new programs: Develop, coordinate, and actively support new workshops and initiatives, such as the Bridging Program sections of Writing Studies 101 offered to ESL students (through the Faculty of Extension) and graduate ESL writing groups. Create and deliver specialized workshops and “boot camps” on a number of writing-related topics. Develop and coordinate an Online Writing Centre for distance education courses in the Faculty of Extension. Create and present professional development workshops for Teaching Assistants and faculty members, such as the three “Writing With an Accent” workshops as well as yearly lectures on Second Language Writing to future Teaching Assistants. Network with the community at large and offer personalized expertise and workshops to other schools, universities, and businesses.
RESEARCH AND SCHOLARSHIP
- Professional development and conferences: Actively participate in national, regional, and international professional organizations such as the International Writing Centers Association (IWCA), the Canadian writing Centres Association (CWCA), the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), the Symposium on Second Language Writing, and the International TESOL Association. Attend training seminars and institutes such as the Writing Program Administrators’ Institute, lead by Shirley Rose, Director of Arizona State University’s Writing Programs, Irwin Weiser, Past-Dean of Purdue University’s College of Liberal Arts, and Michele Eodice, Executive Director of Learning, Teaching, & Writing, University of Oklahoma (July 2011 in Baton Rouge, LA) and the IWCA Summer Institute for Writing Center Directors (July 2008 in Madison, WI, and July 2010 in Oklahoma City, OK).
- Tutor professional development: mentor and encourage undergraduate and graduate tutors to send proposals to writing centre national and international conferences. Help them with their research projects, development of ideas and conference proposals, and grant proposals to attend and present at these conferences.
Academic development: Keep abreast of current developments in writing centre, rhetoric/composition, and ESL theories and best practices practice through collegial relationships and scholarly work locally, nationally, and internationally.
Research and dissemination of findings: Conduct research pertinent to the activity of teaching writing, peer tutoring, administration, and second-language development. Share research findings in professional conferences and journals. Translate scholarship into improved pedagogical and administrative practices. Write and publish articles to disseminate findings (e.g. in TESOL Quarterly, Language Teaching, and The TESL Canada Journal).
- Collaboration: Meet regularly with the other University of Alberta writing centres (Writing Resources on North Campus, Campus St Jean’s Centre d’Ecriture, and Augustana’s Writing Centre) to discuss practices and responses to different issues, create new promotional materials, share pedagogical materials, write grant proposals, present together at international conferences, etc. Organize writing workshops with and for the University of Alberta’s faculty, staff, and students (e.g. UofA+ summer intensive writing workshops offered by International Student Services to incoming ESL students). Organize campus-wide events such as the Long Night Against Procrastination with the help of numerous campus partners (such as the Graduate Students Association, the Students’ Union, Student Services, the Dean of Students Office, Health and Wellness Services, the Provost’s Office, University of Alberta International, University of Alberta Libraries, etc.).
- Service to the community: Review articles, book proposals, and books as a guest peer reviewer for different academic journals (e.g. the Writing Program Administrators Journal, TESOL Quarterly, the Journal of Second Language Writing, and the International Journal of Applied Linguistics). Past member of the TESOL Book Publication Committee (2007-2011) and current member of the TESOL Journal Editorial Advisory Board and the TESOL Professional Development Professional Council. Current Past-President of the CWCA Executive Board (organizer of the 2016 CWCA conferences). Current member of the IWCA’s Executive Board (CWCA representative).
- Networking: Collaborate on research projects and share resources with other writing centres and universities in Canada and other countries. Review proposals for research projects related to writing centres (e.g. dissertation proposal at Memorial University in Newfoundland, proposal for additional ESL support at University of Saskatchewan, strategic plan for international student support at University of British Columbia, Okanagan). Collaborate with other writing centre directors in Canada, the US, and other countries on research projects, articles, and conference presentations.