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Message from the Director

In 1999 I had a student with brilliant creativity but terrible writing skills. I spoke with then-provost of the University, Dr. Willard Gingrich, who referred me to the director of the University's Writing Center, Dr. Derek Owens. I sent my student there, but he came back abashed that he was being tutored by undergrads.With Derek’s encouragement, I started the Writing Center here, in a tiny room inside the library. We started with tutoring and workshops. Slowly, the Writing Center became a force in the law school.

In late 2007, Deans Mary Daly and Andrew Simons offered us the space vacated by the library’s computer lab, which had fallen into desuetude. Dean Simons asked me to sketch a plan for the new space, and throughout academic 2007-08, we worked with George Pietramala, the architects, designers, electricians and technical people. The construction started in May; in the late summer the workers broke through the first-floor wall to install the glass doors; and the new Writing Center opened in the Fall of 2008.

The Writing Center Consultants are the law school’s top students and best writers. They keep the Writing Center open for walk-in hours almost all week, helping students to brainstorm about ideas, improve their research and writing skills, spruce up their writing samples, and practice exam essays. The Consultants conduct workshops on writing, bluebooking, outlining, grammar and conciseness. Former Consultants (nearly 100, when added to the current crop) form a network of smart, prosperous alumni at firms, clerkships and government offices.

In 2007 we began encouraging students to enter writing competitions, with admirable success. Some have won cash prizes (as high as $5,000); some have had their papers published; and one was honored in the Library of Congress. Currently, students  have papers circulating in the competition pipelines all the time. In 2008 the Writing Center sponsored a reading by Daniel Serrano (2001) from his novel, Gunmetal Black, and interviewers from the Latino press interviewed him here. Our next initiative is to help students get their papers published. The Writing Center energizes us. Our warm space in its prominent first-floor location trumpets the law school’s make-no-mistake message about good writing.

Margaret V. Turano
Associate Academic Dean and Professor of Law