Good writers are voracious readers. They tell compelling stories, develop distinct voices, and anticipate their audience members’ questions. Ultimately good writers see writing as a process of sifting through and even wrestling with competing ideas, formulating and organizing their own thoughts, and sharing them with others in a way that is clear, persuasive and respectful. They leave a lasting impression.
Writing has been a central component of Jesuit education for more than 450 years. It’s not surprising then that the craft is a key component of Le Moyne’s strategic plan, Sempre Avanti. The plan upholds the depth and permanence of the College’s Ignatian roots while also recognizing the forward momentum of change and the invigorating call of, and response to, history and innovation. It acknowledges that tomorrow’s leaders will face challenges, including an explosion of data, the rise of mobility, and the emergence of multiple new platforms to communicate and share information. In order to navigate this complicated landscape, they will need a solid academic foundation that prepares them for a lifetime of learning.
To that end, this fall the College launched a new Writing Center whose mission is to work with students and faculty members across disciplines in order to improve writing college-wide. The Center was made possible in large part thanks to a generous gift from Gina Goldhammer, whose mother, Tanya Popovic, was a librarian at Le Moyne for 30 years. It is housed in the newly renovated Noreen Reale Falcone Library and led by inaugural director Matthew Fledderjohann, Ph.D. Prior to his arrival at Le Moyne, Fledderjohann taught at both the University of Wisconsin at Madison and DePaul University in Chicago, Ill., working one-one-one with writers to help them develop better texts and a better understanding of the writing process. Under his leadership, the College’s Writing Center will host visiting experts in instructional design, pedagogy, and creative writing along with workshops for faculty members in all disciplines to advance writing across campus.
“I hope the Writing Center at Le Moyne will be a place where all writers and teachers of writing know they are welcome to come, learn, and grow as writers and thinkers,” Fledderjohann said. “Writing is hard. But the personalized instruction we provide through tutoring and our Writing Across the curriculum initiatives help demystify some of that difficulty and prepare writers to move confidently toward their next writing challenge. Writing is only becoming more and more important in people's academic, professional and personal lives, so the work we do here will resound far into these writers’ futures.”
As dean of the College of Arts and Science and Associate Professor of English Jim Hannan, Ph.D., noted, “reading, thinking, and writing are foundational to successful engagement with social, political, cultural and professional life.” It goes beyond that, though. Writing persuasively requires individuals to engage with others in a manner that is respectful and constructive, which aligns perfectly with the College’s mission to prepare its members for leadership and service to promote a more just society in their personal and professional lives.
“Ideally, Le Moyne students and graduates will be writers who follow the rules and conventions of standard written English, have a sense of their audience and how they should adapt their writing to address that audience, and use writing to develop their thoughts, ideas, and conclusions,” Hannan said. “We are educating students to entertain ambiguity in their writing as a way to pose and resolve problems ranging from the minor to the complex, and to use writing as part of their creative and critical thinking.”
Ultimately, he and other faculty members, including Associate Professor of English and Department Chair Maura Brady, Ph.D., want students to discover that writing is one of the best ways to sort through any number of challenges.
“We’re looking to develop writers who are really thoughtful and who see writing as a tool for developing, analyzing, synthesizing, and working out problems,” Brady said. “Their writing is better when they realize it’s part of a process that is deeply engaged in thinking. It doesn’t always come easily, but once they have mastered it, writing is a skill that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.”
The creation of the Writing Center is part of the College's $100 million Always Forward campaign, which was publicly announced in June of 2018.