The mission of the Center for Writing is to enhance student learning, to improve writing instruction, and to deepen our understanding of literacy and the writing process. Through individual consultations, workshops, and research grants, the Center for Writing supports the work of all University of Minnesota students, faculty, and staff engaged in the practice, teaching, and study of writing. The Center for Writing houses six connected programs: Student Writing Support, Teaching with Writing, Interdisciplinary Studies of Writing, the Graduate Minor in Literacy and Rhetorical Studies, the Minnesota Writing Project, and the Writing-Enriched Curriculum project.
Today’s Center for Writing brings together four previously separate centers on the Twin Cities campus, each of which has a rich history: the General College Writing Center, the Online Writing Center, the Student Writing Center, and the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Writing.
In 1972, the General College Reading and Writing Skills Center opened and began teaching individually-paced, tutorial-supported, credit-earning courses on writing, reading, study skills, and library research. During the 1980s and 1990s, the Center dropped the words “Skills” and “Reading” from its name, ceased offering courses, and began focusing on collaboration between student writers and writing consultants. In 1995, the GCWC joined with the existing Math Center and a new Computer Center to create the Academic Resource Center (ARC). In 2006, General College became the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning in the College of Education and Human Development; as a result, the center was renamed the CEHD Writing Center. In 2007, the CEHD Writing Center became part of the Center for Writing’s Student Writing Support (SWS) program and was renamed SWS–Appleby.
Also in the early 1970s, the Department of English began offering one-to-one writing instruction to undergraduate students. By the 1990s, this tutorial service was named the Student Writing Center (SWC), eventually leaving the Department of English in 1999 to become a separate unit in the College of Liberal Arts dedicated to supporting undergraduate students writing across the curriculum. In 2003, the SWC merged with the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Writing to support both undergraduate and graduate students through the Student Writing Support program in the newly created Center for Writing.
In 1987, the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Writing (CISW) was created with a generous grant from the Deluxe Foundation and University matching funds. CISW supported faculty, staff, and graduate students engaged in researching and teaching writing across the curriculum. In 1991, CISW became the home of the Minnesota Writing Project, a local site of the National Writing Project, committed to improving the literacy of all students, strengthening University and K–12 school connections, and increasing the professional power of the state’s preK–college teachers through ongoing professional development.
In 1997, the Online Writing Center (OWC) began as a largely volunteer collaboration among faculty and graduate students on the Saint Paul campus. The OWC was housed in the Department of Rhetoric, yet existed online as a virtual writing center, open to writers around the world with “rooms,” “resources” and a “grammar oracle.” Throughout its history, the OWC was studied by Rhetoric graduate students and faculty—eventually securing funding, focusing its services on asynchronous writing consultations available only to University students, and developing its mission to provide writing assistance for students in technical and scientific disciplines and to embrace the use of technology in writing and writing instruction. In 2006, the OWC merged into the Center for Writing and was created anew as SWS.online, a hybrid consulting service involving both asynchronous paper submission/response and synchronous chat.
In 2006, the Provost’s Baccalaureate Writing Initiative called for the merger of all writing centers on the Twin Cities campus and the incorporation of this new, expanded Center for Writing into the new Department of Writing Studies beginning July 2007. During that same time, the Center proposed and received funding for the new Writing-Enriched Curriculum project, which will transform the existing writing-intensive requirement into a curricular approach that ensures all undergraduate degrees are writing enriched.