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College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Center for Writing and Rhetoric Hosts Symposium on Writing Challenges, Increases Staff to Assist Growing Student Body

The University of Mississippi Center for Writing and Rhetoric invites teachers from community colleges and high schools to explore the writing challenges facing students as they transition to university life.

Beginning Friday (Oct. 7), writing teachers descend on the Oxford campus for the Transitioning to College Writing symposium, a two-day event aimed at generating dialogue and exploring ideas to develop the best foundation for students transitioning to college writing.

“As a flagship university, it is our role to serve as a point of contact about literacy values in our state,” said Robert Cummings, director of the center.

The symposium is also about giving voice to an important issue, said Paula Miller, a CWR instructor and regional campus writing center coordinator.

“We recognize that as teachers of writings, we have different levels of challenges,” Miller said. “But, we all still have a common interest in helping students be better writers. That why it’s important for us to have this symposium. We’re pulling together a variety of voices to ask and hopefully answer, ‘What does writing look like in our classrooms?’ and ‘What do student need to become better writers?’”

It is important to discuss this issue as more and more students attend universities, including UM, which has experienced impressive growth and this fall enrolled the state’s largest freshman class ever, Cummings said.

To prepare for this fall’s influx, CWR hired 10 new faculty and staff for its Oxford, Tupelo and Southaven campuses.

The university’s huge freshmen class is a great challenge to have, Cummings said.

“Our main focus is first-year writing, and it’s important that we have seating for every new student,” he said. “We were anticipating this large class and we’re happy to have these people on board to help us address students’ needs so they can be successful in the disciplines they’ve chosen.”

While the university’s Writing Center is relatively new, its purpose is not.

“The Center for Writing and Rhetoric was established in 2009 to unify the university’s commitment to writing instruction, especially for first-year students,” Cummings said. “As such, we oversee tutoring and support for student writers, as well as professional development and training for all teachers.”

What’s more, CWR promotes writing across the curriculum and disciplines by working with individual faculty, colleges, departments, programs and the writing centers at Ole Miss campuses in Southaven and Tupelo.

“It’s just really exciting to see the university support the need to focus on writing,” Miller said. “We are making a solid investment in helping students achieve the writing skills they need for their careers. Each brings certain strength and it’s exciting to see this come together.”

To learn more about the Transitioning to College Writing symposium, visit To register for the symposium, call 662-915-2121.

For more information, visit UM’s Center for Writing and Rhetoric.