Mission, Vision, History
The Seattle University Writing Center is dedicated to fully engaging Seattle University students in becoming the most effective writers they can be.
Through modeling the best practices in service learning, the Writing Center will be a first choice destination for Seattle University students to learn how to improve their writing.
The Seattle University Writing Center first opened in 1987, initially supervised by John Bean, then the Director of Writing, with the help of an assistant director. In 1993, Larry Nichols was hired as its first full-time Director. Each year from its inception until 2009, the Writing Center employed 17-25 undergraduate writing consultants who conducted a yearly average of 2500 one-hour sessions. In 2010, with increased undergraduate enrollment and the Writing Center’s move to a new home in the Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons, demand for writing center services rose dramatically. That fall, the Center hired a half-time assistant director and increased the number of peer consultants in order to conduct roughly 3000 sessions per year. In the fall of 2013, the Writing Center leadership changed again with the director’s role becoming halftime and Jennifer Heckler being hired as a fulltime Associate Director; in 2015, the former director, Larry Nichols, retired and Jennifer Heckler became the Interim Director. As part of a very diverse campus, each year the Center serves clients from over 35 different first languages, with non-native speakers of English comprising about one-third of its clients.
Theory in Practice
Operating from the belief that effective writing often emerges from dialogic conversation, the Center offers hour-long sessions designed to help students negotiate all phases of the writing process. Consultants work collaboratively with clients to invite and stimulate creative and critical thinking, making the Writing Center a lively crucible for learning-- both for consultants and for clients. Additionally, working in the Center affords consultants sustained practice in the Jesuit tradition of combining engaged learning with service. In drawing their clients into conversation, listening empathically, and taking their client’s ideas seriously, consultants help create an intellectual environment that values the “whole person” while contributing to their clients’ long-term growth as writers and thinkers. Most consultants find the intellectual and interpersonal skills they have learned in the Center to be instrumental in their professional formation.
Beyond the course, ongoing observations, discussions, staff meetings, and further research enliven the Writing Center community. Staff members actively participate in professional organizations and often present their work at conferences, with some of that work having been published. See below for an historical list of staff members’ contributions to professional meetings and publications.