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SHSU Awarded $450,000
To Establish Writing Center

A writing center to serve students, faculty, administrators, and even alumni and the community, will be established by Sam Houston State University as the result of a $450,000 grant from Houston Endowment Inc.

Bobby K. Marks, Sam Houston president, was notified by an official of the Houston philanthropy created by Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones that SHSU will receive the funding in three installments beginning March 31.

Marks said he was especially grateful to Houston Endowment for their continuing generosity, which in the past has included scholarships, money for land purchases and special programs, and other needs.

"We are grateful for the many ways Houston Endowment Inc. has supported Sam Houston State University over the years," said Marks. "Much of our progress--in a number of academic areas--we owe to that support."

Writing centers and programs have been created by colleges and universities to counter criticism that today's college graduates do not write well, to assist students who do write well to become even better, to help publish student and faculty work, and to improve general communication skills.

Patricia Williams, a professor in the College of Education and Applied Science who also serves as the director of the university's Across-the-University Writing Program, said that the grant will move SHSU even more into national prominence in the field.

"We are ecstatic that we have received this large grant from Houston Endowment," said Williams. "We have looked at writing programs and centers at other universities and feel that we know what it will take to make ours the premier writing center in the United States. This grant will help make that goal a reality."

SHSU's writing program has already received national attention from leaders in that field.

Angela Williams, director of The Citadel Writing Center, told the SHSU faculty that they had "one of the best writing-across-the-university programs in the nation. You don't realize how close (to being the best) that you are."

Kenneth T. Henson, dean of the College of Education at Eastern Kentucky and author of more than 200 publications, presented a workshop at SHSU and wrote later that the SHSU program "is the best I've seen anywhere."

The SHSU program was established in 1989 to improve writing skills, general literacy, critical thinking, and active learning for students.

More than 90 writing workshops have been presented to assist faculty members in the design and implementation of writing-enhanced courses. A total of 537 writing-enhanced sections were offered in the 1997 spring semester.

The new center will provide Internet access, tutoring sessions individualized for various disciplines, job application advice, résumé writing, entrance essays for graduate school, thesis and dissertation development, a networked multimedia computer facility, a faculty clearinghouse for classroom materials, regular writing-across-the-curriculum workshops, and other related services.

Williams said the writing center will serve the entire campus, including students, faculty, administrators and staff, plus alumni and the community.

Faculty members will use the center's services for assistance in publishing books or articles, she said, while alumni and community residents will use it for help with something as simple as calling to determine if a letter is punctuated correctly.

Williams was complimentary of work by Beth Miles, who directed the grant application process as interim director of advancement.

"Writing has always been one of my special interests," said Miles. "By promoting lifelong learning and responding to the needs of an increasingly diverse population, the center can and will address many complex educational problems. I am proud to have had a part in that effort."

The center will be located initially in space in temporary headquarters, but will eventually be housed in a new $7.5 million campus facility that was approved by the last Texas Legislature for classrooms, library expansion, faculty offices, and other programs.

Construction timelines on that project have not been completed, pending renovation of the Administration Building and the relocation of offices now in other structures which will be removed to make room for the new building.


Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
Feb. 18, 1998

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