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Hume Writing Center to merge with Oral Communication Program

Beginning next year, the Hume Writing Center (HWC) and the Oral Communication Program (OCP) will have new names, a new home and a new format.

The OCP will be merged into the Program in Writing and Rhetoric (PWR). The OCP’s Speaking Center, meanwhile, will be combined with the HWC to create the Hume Center for Writing and Speaking, located in Building 250– across Lasuen Mall from the Bing entrance of Green Library– in the Main Quad.

Julia Bleakney, director of the HWC, emphasized the importance of the change in location for the newly combined center, noting that the 2012 Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford (SUES) report supported the writing center but recommended it move from its current location in the basement of Margaret Jacks Hall.

“We believe that students are really going to benefit from [the move to Building 250] because they sometimes have a hard time finding our current location,” Bleakney said. “[Building 250 is] definitely an improvement for the physical space for our center.”

Oral Communication Program Director Doree Allen M.A. ’82 M.A. ’92 Ph.D. ’92 explained that the planned demolition of Meyer Library means that the OCP, currently situated in Suite 123 of Meyer, will also benefit greatly from a move to the Quad.

“Since Meyer [is] going to be torn down, [this is] a perfect opportunity to bring these two very synergistic things together so we can create a communication hub where people can look at all aspects of writing and public speaking and digital media,” Allen said.

Beyond the physical improvements, Bleakney and Allen expressed an expectation of operational enhancements. While the speaking and writing programs have collaborated in the past, including through the OCP’s involvement with PWR 2 requirements, they noted that the combination of the programs would tie speaking and writing more closely together.

“People coming to get writing tutoring will see the speaking program and vice versa,” Allen said. “Even now, every now and then I’ll find a senior who says, ‘I never knew about this speaking program and if I’d known I’d have been here before.’”

Student tutors like Andrew Gay ’13, an oral communication tutor with the OCP, agreed that the speaking program will gain access to a broader group of students following the changes.

“The added visibility to the program will be huge, as, currently, the Oral Communication Program is a very underutilized resource that effectively serves as a private resource of the PWR 2 program,” Gay noted.

The directors hope to do more outreach across disciplines as well as holding combined workshops. The new location will also mean more staff and longer hours of operation for the Writing Center in particular, as it currently closes earlier than the Speaking Center and is not open on the weekends.

The new Hume Center for Writing and Speaking will move into Building 250 over the summer, when most programming is focused on graduate students and faculty and staff; it will be open for undergraduates at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year.