Our Mission Statement
- That the highest aspiration of education is the cultivation of intellectual emancipation and human autonomy.
- That the acquisition of knowledge is inseparable from its presentation — that composition is not ancillary to learning, but an integral, active process by which it is accomplished.
- That the value of composition lies in its processes, not its products — that acts of composing are never finished, and that becoming aware of one’s own processes is more important than the artifacts created by them.
- That composition represents a distinct form of scholarly praxis, a mode of ‘knowing-how’ that is as valuable as the theoretical knowledge of any ‘knowing-that.’
- That familiarity with multiple languages and discourse communities constitutes an asset, not an obstacle, to writers’ rhetorical awareness.
- That the instantiation of the above commitments requires a collaborative approach to learning, whether between students, between students and instructors, and between the writing program and the other instructional units at CGU.
- To constitute a nexus where students engage in conversations about writing, develop strategies for effective communication, and become more confident, self-reliant editors of their own work.
- To meet all students where they are by interacting as a critical audience, providing individualized instruction that builds capacity in each writer, and maximizing their agency through a set of common rhetorical tools that transfer to a wide range of writing tasks and situations.
- To offer a distinct form of learning that does not rely on the hierarchical practices of assessment and authorization that often characterize the graduate educational experience.
- To cultivate in CGU students a sense of rhetorical awareness, understood both as attunement to the situation, audience, and objectives of any given composition, and as practical refinements of stylistic elements like tone, fluency, and nuance.
- To represent CGU’s philosophy of transdisciplinary education by helping students to recognize how the particular discursive features of their disciplines participate in the shared, deep structures of argumentation that unite us as an academic community.
- To approach academic language training from a rhetorical perspective, incorporating multiple descriptions of what it means to “speak English,” and building toward flexible, fluent use of language in academic contexts.
- To develop knowledgeable, professional teachers who incorporate composition into their pedagogy, regardless of their fields of study.
We provide students with the resources to succeed in graduate school by becoming independent writers and communicators. Students can find the consultants they work best with, and interact with them in a variety of instructional modes: in person, online, or by email. Students can also engage with the Center through workshops, webinars, courses, and dissertation boot camps.
Students can use the Center during any stage in their writing process, from brainstorming to outlining, from drafting to reviewing, from polishing to presenting. And they can work with us on a range of projects, from papers to posters, from class discussions to conference presentations. The Center does not offer editing or proofreading services; rather, our consultants will help students strategize how to best approach a project — whether it is due tomorrow, next week, or in a year.
In 1985 the writing center movement was growing across the country in undergraduate institutions, and Lissa Petersen and the then Dean, Jerry Spanier, decided to start one at CGU. Jeff Groves, now an English professor at HMC, was one of the first graduate-student “consultants” along with Ken Stahl, another English professor in the area. Wendy Martin helped find good consultants. However, after a few years, the center was closed because of CGU’s budget problems, but the need remained. It was reopened in about 1990. Beyond the consulting service, the director and the center’s consultants led workshops for students on writing topics. Lissa Petersen left the directorship in 1996 to join Pitzer College as a full-time faculty.
Provost Teresa Shaw named Ellen Scheible, Sharon Becker, and Devin Kuhn, all CGU Ph.D. candidates, to be an interim team of students to lead the Writing Center until a new director was hired. From 1996 to 1999, Kimberlee Gillis-Bridges served as Director of the Writing Center. In addition to inaugurating the Center’s email submission service, she spearheaded a Mellon small grant project, working with writing center directors at CMC, Pitzer, Scripps, Pomona, and Harvey Mudd to provide faculty development workshops designed to integrate technology into the teaching of writing across the Claremont Colleges. After that, Carol Ellis became the Director of the Writing Center in 1999.
Katya Fairbanks began as Director of the CGU Writing Center in January 2005. She was responsible for moving the Center into its custom-designed space on 12th Street. She also inaugurated the ever-popular Dissertation Boot Camp program and oversaw the development of the Center’s first course offerings, LANG 100 and LANG 101. She retired in 2014. Seth Anderson was named as the interim Writing Center Director for the fall of 2014.
Dr. Mark Pedretti was named Writing Center Director in January 2015. Dr. Greer Murphy joined the team as Assistant Director and Academic Director of the International Scholars Program in July 2016. The office was renamed the Center for Writing & Rhetoric (CWR) in August 2017. Dr. Marcus Weakley was named as the Interm Director of the CWR in August 2018 and Director in August 2019.