MIT’s Writing and Communication Center is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Over the years, thousands of clients have had more than 80,000 one-on-one consultations at the Center. Clients have included undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, lecturers, staff and faculty members, alumni and spouses. The Center has offered professional advice about all types of writing: from papers for communication-intensive (CI) classes to books for publication, from application essays to grant proposals, from resumes to research statements, from creative writing to scientific articles intended for journals. The Center’s lecturers also give advice on everything from oral presentations for classes to conference presentations, from pronunciation to interview practice. The Center and its individual lecturers have been mentioned in the acknowledgements of many theses and books.
Unlike many writing centers that feature undergraduate or graduate students as tutors, MIT’s Center is staffed entirely by professionals — lecturers who all have advanced degrees, who all are published writers, and who all have years of college classroom teaching experience. The staff includes experts in English as a Second Language. In 2008, it was the featured writing center in Praxis: A Writing Center Journal.
The Center’s mission is best summed up by its motto: “Be a better writer.” The Center is a teaching institution, not a fix-it shop. Its lecturers teach clients techniques and strategies for being better writers and better public speakers. It does not edit or proofread. Faculty members often send their best writers to the Center so that they become even better writers.
Originally housed in 14N-317, the Center moved to the basement of Stata Center in 2004 and then to its present location (12-132) in 2007. In its first year, its director, Steven Strang, and four consultants worked with 66 different clients who made a total of 110 visits. Last year, its eight lecturers and the director worked with 1,053 different clients who made 3,213 visits to the Center.
In addition to one-on-one consultations, the Center has sponsored many minisessions on writing topics, Independent Activities Period (IAP) sessions, and dissertation support groups; since 2002, it has sponsored the MIT’s Writers Group.
In short, the Center has been MIT’s “one-stop shopping” for anyone associated with MIT and interested in learning more about writing and oral presentations. Appointments are scheduled online by going to the Center’s website and clicking on “Appointments.”