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Ash Bittner: Okay. Okay, so that's me turning on recording. Okay. So that you know that you're being recorded. And of course the follow on all of these legal things we have to make sure we get covered because Academy right. So we are interviewing you for the oral histories in the UofL library oral history site. As part of that after the interview I'll need to forward you to a consent form they will need to be signed so that it can be posted to where people could read it. I'm not actually sure if the video or if the conference itself goes on there. We're just it's like a Studs Terkel write up of oral history. So that will be sent afterwards. All That Jazz. So, first things first Bronwyn wanted me to say hi to you.

Jennifer Marciniak: Hi Bronwyn.


AB: I'll tell him you said hi back on Monday because I think he's already headed home for the day.

JM: Cool.

AB: So, to start, we have the -- I actually do know some of these answers just because Bronwyn likes to give us briefings of all the people he knew, like, oh, okay, and she did this and this and there was this time this happened. But for the interview; When did you work at the University Writing Center / Clinic? Because it was is the writing center or the clinic when you were there?

JM: Oh, no, it was definitely the Writing Center. I've never heard the word clinic before... I used it for that writing center. So that must... Wow, that's interesting. Um, I started... Oh, my gosh, I knew you're gonna ask this question and I completely forgot when I started. I think it was my second year in PhD... So 2011,maybe? ...Or 2012? No, I think it was 11. Because I was there for a 2:00year. I'm pretty sure so sorry about that. I can't remember the date has been like a long time. So because I was I think I worked there for one year as a consultant and then I was there for two years as the assistant director to the virtual Writing Center. So I'm pretty sure it was 2011. Yeah, because in 2014 I left. Okay. Yeah. All right.

AB: That also indirectly answers our next question of were you an MA or PhD student during that time? Yeah, pretty much and writes itself. What's- what's- the what position.. Well, we kind of answered this one to what positions did you hold with consultant and ...assistant director?

JM: Assistant Director of the virtual writing center. Right. So I, yeah, I was a consultant for a year. So I worked with the dissertation boot camps, it was one 3:00of the first, we were one of the first ones that did the boot camps. And then I moved into the, the how to apply for and got the assistant directorship for the virtual Writing Center. So I was there for two years. And I was supposed to be able to finish my dissertation at that time because I was working from home because that's what happened a lot. We didn't have the I think what y'all have now, which is the you have like rooms and things. And in Bingham you have like the basement and everything or something for the virtual but we didn't have that. So I worked from home a lot, which was sweet, but also has its challenges. But yeah so, that's what I was. That's where I was. So--

AB: All right. What were the responsibilities as the associate- assistant director of the writings- the virtual Writing Center?

JM: I, what I did as I worked with the distance learners, so basically, folks 4:00that were coming in that were from a distance or not in Louisville, or they were taking classes from abroad, you know, afar or whatnot. I work specifically with them. And this was before WCOnline, so we used TutorTrac, which was v- a problem. So, so, yeah, so that was my big thing. So I would actually go out to the campuses and, and do presentations to faculty that taught online courses, and to get them to understand what we did, why you're working virtually with the Writing Center was important. And I also experimented with a with a project, the virtual dissertation boot camp, which was with a dissertation boot camp that me and another consultant did. It was the first time it had been tried. I don't 5:00know if it's been done since but it was like whoa, I was. It was a there was so many technical things going on, but we only have had a few people that signed up for it, which was still good. It was really helpful for them, but it was very challenging. So we also created a video for the virtual Writing Center, me and another consultant. So I don't- it was kind of a marketing video. So that was another thing so promotion was a big part of what I did too.

AB: Well then. We- That is definitely something that's an ongoing struggle is keeping promoted.

JM: See? Yeah, I was. Yeah, I don't Yeah, I see it because I worked with a with Aubrie Cox, like all like about a year and a half, of you know, on my dissertation, and I always saw us full constantly full so but I was the only one doing these online. Online consultations, there were no other consultants that were doing it. So the fact that there are several now is pretty sweet.

AB: Which does somewhat roll into the next question where they ask who were the other tutors and were they called tutors?- Well. Clearly not this was at the consultant era

JM: Are y'all tutors now? Cuz... Eh.. I.. yeah I think we were consultants I 6:00don't remember if we were ever called tutors but in that and the two writing centers I've been director of since I left Louisville.. I've.. Yeah, they've always been consultants and I'm, yeah, we never called them tutors.

AB: Still consultants today. It was just a very old artifact. Thanks to like the writing clinic era.

JM: Yeah, no, that's- clinic is one of those triage type of ideologies which is- we try not to do that. So as you know, probably... "heal" people.

AB: You remember many of the other... consultants that you worked with at the time? I heard Aubrie talks. She's still here.

JM: Yeah. I didn't work with her. She was actually my consultant for my- when I was working- finishing my dissertation last- this year, and last year, so well actually, yeah, I defended it in November. So Yeah, I took a I took a huge- not 7:00necessarily a break but you know, when you're- when you're a full time writing center director and trying to finish your dissertation, it's very difficult. So, she helped- she was my consultant trying to push me along. So, but yeah, totally remember the consultants that I worked with. Absolutely. They were all my friends. Yeah, PhD and MA students. I'm still friends with them. So--

AB: How many were there in that program when you were... just as a ballpark number?

JM: Um, that's a great question too.. um.. oof. At any given time, I think that they were probably about... five or six of us working maybe.. per shift... might have been less than that. So, I don't know how many there are now. But there were only like three PhDs working in the Writing Center when we were there, and it was a fluke that we were because apparently we didn't have enough master's 8:00students that came in with us- came in, in that cohort. And so Bronwyn said, "Hey, does anybody want to.. you know... have a... you know... give up one of your classes and work in the Writing Center?" And so I was like, Yes, I do. So that's how it started, you know, so because I had been working in the Writing Center, my master's institution at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. And so, yeah, when I got the chance to come back to writing center work, I was like, Yes! totally! you know, so and then it's went from there. I think they've had PhDs in that program, since... I don't really remember. I don't know. So you would know more than I would.

AB: Well, I would only know my one year. But we have had a few besides just the ones working as a ADs. What sort of training was instituted at that time for consultants?

JM: Well, um, it was training that I did not do. So, because I was a PhD student I wasn't required to take the m- the mandatory class, uh, in writing center pedagogy that master's students are now have to take. So I didn't take a class, 9:00but the ADs- the PhDs who were ADs, they helped- they assisted with teaching that course. But I didn't have to take it because I was a PhD. So and, you know, I kind of just learned as I went- I think- because I was thinking the other day, if I ever had any.. any real training in my master's program- when I was working in the Writing Center, but I don't think anything more than just a meeting... you know, about, "Hey, this is what we do in the Writing Center!", but no, like actual training, I can't think of anything specifically and certainly no class. So, um, to say that I taught myself would be problematic, obviously, but it was a real social learning process about what to do and what not to do, I think, and 10:00from conferences and shadowing consultants and talking to consultants that... Were working at the same time as me, but in terms of like actually- any like, training- in terms of academic training- like coursework. I didn't have any of that, although I do teach a class in it now, but I digress.

AB: Best not to let them know that you got away without that class.

JM: They don't need to know that. I teach very non-traditional type of class about writings service pedagogy. So it's not it's not like anything else, because our school is not- our institutions are way different so.Yeah, that's, yeah, that's kind of the training. I guess...You want me to elaborate? Let me know.

AB: Uh no. I think that ...entirely informal- entirely "on the job". JM: Yeah, a lot of on the job training, I guess. Yeah- Very... Yeah. Very working class... very yeah... apprenticeship model. So UK: Does seem to have paid out.


JM: Yeah, guess so.

AB: kind of, I guess roles? Some of these questions are getting well answered by the long answers.

JM: Oh, yeah, sorry.

AB: No, no, it's a very natural way to get to the information. Instead of this more dogmatic next question of what was the structure of the program at the time?

JM: Oh.. of the- of the comp program?

AB: I believe so--

JM: Well, I probably the same as it is now. In terms- Basically, I came in a cohort of seven or eight of us... six- I don't know how many was, and we had to go through the practicum course-- which don't- don't ask me questions about that, because I will not give you nice answers--and- and then we were, you know, we taught at the same time for a semester or a year, I can't remember how long 12:00it was. No, it was a year at least because I taught two sections, four sections of comp. So... so that was how it was structured, then you could apply for AD positions and the Watson position and anything else besides that, and also conferences and things like that. So... and then you had your comprehensive exams that you studied for and et cetera. So, it's... I think it's probably the same type of rhythm as it was... back in that... I think I took my comprehensive exams in 2012. So is when I took mine and then then 14... I was supposed to graduate but didn't and I took a job instead. So and then, heh, here we are. That's kind of the structure. That's how I define structure in terms of what you're asking.

AB: That'll do I suppose. What population of students did you work with when you were here?

JM: In the Writing Center?

AB: Mmhmm

JM: So, well, when I was consulting, I worked with a variety of different 13:00students and so... I worked with a lot of older students, I'm kind of nontraditional, a lot of my cohorts a lot younger than me. So I... I felt more comfortable working with students who were older than older or you know, older than me. So I worked with a lot of older students, masters level students, nontraditional undergrads. I work with students. I had one of my first semester there as a consultant in my PhD, I worked with a blind student the entire semester, it was really rewarding and amazing experience... I learned a lot about working with students with disabilities. I think I've really loved... fell in love with working with personal statements during that time too, because I worked with a lot of students who are applying for the Master's in social work program there and or were working on longer papers for that programs just because they that's how we found them or they found us and so... I... yeah, that was a really, really interesting experience working with students applying for 14:00the same program at school, you know, or a program at, at Louisville. So, with professors they already knew. It was just interesting.

And so, of course, the distance learners, obviously, which are, most of the time, were older learners and people that are coming back to school or working full time. Interestingly enough, the same type of people that I would be later on, you know, working full time, finished my dissertation... but you learn a lot you have lots of conversations with them about life and, and things may feel like I don't know, they felt comfortable talking to me about stuff and I felt comfortable talking to them. And... uh... obviously, confidentiality and obviously... like... there's boundaries and everything, which vary, you know... we definitely... I kept, so did they, you know, it's we're professionals and stuff. So there were some times where, you know, you know, there was this, there's this one. This was this one consultant ,not consultant, one person... I worked with first time we started doing video chat because I with WCOnline I 15:00think it was and no, maybe it was two different. I don't remember. But anyway, he was in distance and he, he wouldn't. He's one of those ones he did not. He did not want to necessarily talk about his work. He wanted to ask personal questions. And I was just like, "Oh my gosh," so I don't have that happen very often. But that was really interesting. So that that consultation wasn't very, you know, productive, I had to keep moving him, trying to push him back from, "Tell me about you," and I'm like, this is not some kind of speed dating buddy. So, you know, yeah, no, there's a variety that the population I worked with is definitely a variety but mostly with older students, master students and some very, very interesting dissertation writers during the dissertation boot camps. So.

AB: Sounds like the dissertation writers and the blind students were 16:00particularly rewarding experiences to work with.

JM: I think so, definitely. I actually use a lot of these examples. And from my experiences at that at that.. at Louisville's Writing Center when I'm teaching here or while I'm working with my writing center students here, so because I direct a writing center, obviously, so it's a, you know, we're talking about specific situations or, you know, why we should be teaching personal statements, or not teaching but consulting in these ways and asking these questions about personal statements, I'll tell them the story of the one time where I had a student come in, and she was applying for the social work program at Louisville. And it was due the next day, she was working on personal statement, and I'm like, "Okay, let's look at the prompt," you know, and she realized after we read the prompt out loud that there were three bullet points that she had to answer, but she realized that she thought she only had to answer one of them. Like she, we had to work that entire time on, you know, how are we going to make this, you 17:00know, answer all three because you know it's do the next day, so she basically had to on dismantle her entire statement and rebuild it around two more bullets. And so, but she got in and she brought me a thank you card. It was my first ever thank you card and it was really sweet. And so I talked a lot about the importance of... uh... use that as an example to support why the prompt is important when we work with students. So, you know, I always bring up stuff like that just really is grounding. So.

AB: So those were the rewarding experiences. Were there any particularly challenging or tedious experiences, the difficult ones?

JM: Oh, I'm sure. I think we all have consultations where we leave feeling like what just happened here. Or you know, "What?" You know, "What did I even help 18:00with?" I feel like, you know, this person has left you know, feeling even more, you know... That was I think, when we were doing the virtual dissertation boot camp where we had, we had to create this entire program... This was, you know, pre-WConline. And TutorTrack is just atrocious. So we were gonna... we were using Google Hangouts and there were just so many technical issues and we had to figure out microphones because there's multiple people and there was reverb and all this stuff and sometimes it... you know... it didn't work. And you know, there was one time where there's, there's two of us working on this and we had to go to my apartment and we had to switch back and forth working with our people... or with our, you know, student writers, because my partner's computer wouldn't work. And so she came over here to my place. Oh! It was just... At the end of it, I did a conference presentation about the process and everything, and lots of people were interested in how this worked out, but we did have positive 19:00reviews for the two or three people that actually went through this program. But I don't think it's ever happened again, because there was so many technical issues, and I think it needs to be rethought and reformalized. So, yes, challenging. Yes, you know, at the same time as rewarding, so.. but I don't think I ever had anything that any issues with the writing center or any, you know, stories that were like, you know, were really highly problematic. Umm... not at U of L! At other... at my institution that I went to after that, yes, but not... not as a DSS, as an assistant director, so.

AB: Well, we won't pry into those ones then.

JM: Yeah, PTSD.

AB: Well, how did some of these questions kind of sound a little repetitive because we kind of get into them, but that's alright. But how did you approach sessions slash working with writers

JM: How did I approach sessions um... I, you know, as writers, as folks feel, 20:00you know, like they come in, you don't really know what to think of. And I approached it as informally as possible. I tried to make them feel as comfortable as possible. And because one of the big things I teach my students, or I try to instill in my students, is... is the necessity of trust in the relationship between consultant and writer. And if you're just coming in and you're like, blank faced, and you're, you know, okay, so what are we working on today? You know, tone is a big part of it, but you also don't want to be like, (falsetto) "Hey, what's happening? I'm Jennifer!" You know, you don't want to be fake, right? So, they can tell that and they also don't want any of that BS, either. They just, they want to say, hey, you're my consultant, nice to meet you. You know, cool that we're getting along. Let's chill and work on this writing together. And, you know, you have to kind of formulate how you talk to people, your body language, dependent upon the person that you're working with. 21:00And I think for me, that was... I stepped into it pretty easily, for the most part. I had a lot of repeat... or you know... repeat consult-- students that I saw weekly. So, you know, we got to know each other pretty well. And once you know the trust is created, then you can be a little more informal. Then you can chit chat before and after more than you would somebody you didn't know. And so it just becomes a trust situation. And so... um... I gauged it, I gauged consultations, by body language, by tone, by need, by energies, pretty much. Which I try to instill in my consultants, but at the same time, sometimes it's hard, it's a habit. You gotta... they're like, "How do you do that?" And I'm just like, "Girl, it takes practice." It's not something that's easy, you know? 22:00Cuz you just gotta, you just gotta practice it. So that's how I that's how I kind of approach it. So.

AB: Sounds like very good strategies that you learned in the Writing Center.

JM: Yes, it's approaching people. It's just being conversational and making trying to make people feel comfortable and that you're there for them. So... I've seen my share of consultants who don't necessarily put off that intro. So, not necessarily at U of L, but just in general. So, yeah.

AB: What types of issues in writing did students ask about?

JM: Oh, at U of L. A lot of it was, "Does this make sense?" "Do you think this is sounding okay." I didn't get a lot of, "What would you do here," you know, questions necessarily. Which I know a lot of consultants do get, but... you know, just a lot of... they've wanted support in terms of... that I understood 23:00what their point was. That I understood what they were trying to get across. "Was it clear?" Things like that. I did have my fair share of students that really were like, "Okay, so what kind of word would you put here?" You know, and I think while we all get that, to a certain extent, I... I sometimes feel like maybe I said that a little bit probably too much by being a little too directive, in some cases, but I'm very much of the... of the practice that of being directive and that there needs to be a good balance of directive and non-directive in terms of writing. And again, that comes with gauging the energy of a consultation. But... um... so whenever someone would say, "Well, what do you think about this word? You know, what about what's a good word? What's a good word?" I felt like that was a red flag where I would pull back a little bit and use that as a learning experience. But... you know, "I don't know I have some ideas but why don't we go to" You know? And because I know 24:00some people are like anti looking things up like in a thesaurus, but I'm so pro-thesaurus because I'm terrible at word games and stuff like that. I cannot think for my life, too. I can't save my life in, like, Scrabble and stuff. So it's like, I know, let's use a thesaurus and let's use it well. You know, let's, let's see how it works. Let's figure out some words. Let's try some different words and see what happens, you know, because that's how you increase your vocabulary. So, um, yeah, that's kind of how I approached it sometimes.

AB: And so with that in mind, like do you think the Writing Center was... did effectively in terms of teaching writing at that time? Was teaching writing the thing was being done or is it more something else you think?

JM: I think it's how you define teaching. I try not to think about writing centers as teaching writing, just because that can... especially in my institution, now... It becomes problematic in terms of writing the disciplines and stuff. So and we're, you know, our consultants are from a variety of different disciplines here. So, I don't know, necessarily, if I would consider it teaching writing. I would consider it more as a facilitator of knowledge. 25:00Because while I didn't necessarily, I don't... I feel like that anyway. So, it was a lot of providing feedback and thinking, "Okay, well, this is, you know, using reader response" and them saying, "You know, oh, so that's not what I meant, really what I meant is this," and it's like, "Yes! That, you know, that's exactly what I'm... you know... that sounds great. That makes much more sense." And it's trying, you know, getting across what you want to say here, which is not getting across what you want to say. And so I don't know, I don't... I hesitate to say that I was a teacher of writing. I just don't think that that's the case. So I think it's definitely facilitator of knowledge. I like that. That title sounds better. More accurate, I think.

AB: Very Socratic.

JM: There you go.

AB: So, describe what you remember of the tutoring space at- on U of L writing 26:00center. Like, what was the administrative and tutors offices like? Did you all have like a backroom then where you could go in ...and- and decompress? Or was it more everything in front and hide in the lockers later?

JM: No, it was very- we had a back room. We were on the second floor of the library. And it was right there in the middle of this- was- I know that you're on the first floor now. So it's, uh, yeah, we were in the space on the second floor of the library. And we did have a small back room, we had a cubbies that we all had our coffee cups and stuff and you know, a couch that was gross. And so there were no rooms to do any kind of virtual, you know, consultations or anything like that. That was all in ...Bingham. They had just- they- I think they just created those rooms right after I left and in Bingham so and ...we all sit back there and do homework until Robin called us on the phone, and I can 27:00tell you so many stories of that- so gosh! I just for me it was- oh gosh, I don't know Robin knows it was me. I feel so bad but not I don't really but um so Robin had this habit of every time someone would you know for like the top of the hour right you know that's when the students came in and she would call back to that back room every time someone came in for a consultation, right so you could have a phone call, you know, "Hey Ashley, your person's here" or "Hey Jennifer, your person"- it's like to call every two minutes and it was just like so rattling and nerve racking cuz that phone would ring like every, every minute- every 30 seconds for like, you know, five minutes and it was I don't remember if I went up there and asked her or if I asked one of the ADs to say something at that time but I was like can you just have Robin please just make 28:00sure you know everyone gets there just make one phone call? At hour because It's just like so irritating that phone ringing constantly just... I don't know. But I also have a problem with certain sounds and it really is irritating and anxiety makes that even worse. So it's uh i don't know she still does that and I don't know if you're in a space that requires that anymore. So, but yeah that she- she did I think she changed at least for a little bit so, but I also feel like I might have been the only one that ever cleaned that damn consultant room. Oh my god, it was so disgusting. So disgusting. People will just leave like food and stuff everywhere. There were times when I would come in after the to do shifts --excuse me. allergies -- There. And the someone had left coffee in the coffee pot, like overnight several nights and it was like it would be growing mold. I would it was the most disgusting thing. So I think there were times too and I don't get pissed off about that too. But I may be making that up. I don't 29:00remember but I just Yeah. But yeah, that room was, uh, it was interesting. We... Oh my god...There's another story, but I don't know if I should tell you that story. Because it's not that big of a deal. I don't know if you're going to be interviewing this person.

So when vaping became a thing and but we had a consultant that was, you know, that decided they were going to, you know, it was cool to vape in the back room, just because it's not cigarettes, right. I think it really freaked people out. I know, freaked me out, but I didn't say anything. So but I know it freaks some people out because that was banned. And she- they were- I think she got talked to or, something like that, about not doing that anymore. But that was very interesting to have someone vaping in the backroom, like while they were working on the computer. So... but yeah, that was very quickly squash- quashed, so But 30:00yeah, that's kind of what I remember about the space. I'm sure there's other things. But those are the big things right now. I forgot about them till now.

AB: I can tell you, they've only slightly refined the phone. Now when the phone call occurs, the front desk, whoever's working is calling back to tell us whose writers aren't here yet. And we just assume everyone else's are... But that could still mean 30 seconds later, we get a phone call saying this person's writer has arrived and then 30 seconds after that the last person's writer has arrived.

JM: So.. it's kind of a it's- it's- it's improved a little bit so.. maybe...I mean, it was crazy. It was ugh.. that was the most. That was so irritating. Anyway, yeah. Those are some stories for you. About the space anyway.

AB: Oh, did your work in the University Writing Center connected to your teaching, coursework, or scholarship at the time?


JM: Um.. Well, it was a course release. And so, you know, I worked for I think- I think it was 10 hours- 10 hours... I don't know what a master's students work? Are they 10 or 20?

AB: 20.

JM: Okay, so yeah, I worked 10 hours. And that was one course release, I think... it was 10- or well, yeah, so that's how I mean, that's the only connection I could say. But it was never something- that I mean, I did not write my dissertation. I did not do any research involving writers centers whatsoever. So it was nothing like that. And then here I am. So,

JM: I think that kind of happens sometimes with people who just fall into the work and it's not something you ever expected. So, but yeah, it was not ever connected to anything like act- in terms of like being .... my research. No. So...

I did some, you know, I did some conference work with it and stuff like that 32:00just explaining the virtual Writing Center. It was a really it was kind of new concept at the time... And so like just kind of showing people what that was about and discussing some of the- the pedagogy involved and technology involved, what worked, what didn't work, projects that were being implemented, you know.. know, it was interesting to people. So now it's a- it's a big thing now, and it's- it's a growing part of writing centers and interestingly enough, I don't have that here at my current institution, because we're small, so... But, yeah, maybe someday.

AB: If it didn't connect to your teaching, coursework or scholarship, to your time working the Writing Center influence it with the way your schedule would have been set or with working.. with students- or working with scholars, students, and writers.

JM: Well, I think it influenced how I do my job now for sure... It was 33:00definitely a practice- it was a you know, habit forming... the way that I work with people And how I taught people the importance of working, you know, one to one with writers and also virtually, you know, because I mean, there's a different pedagogy when you're responding to student writing when you're writing and sending them the paper than it is, you know, talking face to face and there's- there's pros and cons to both approaches, especially when it comes to you know, conversation and discus- you know, dialogue about things. So... I think more than anything, it probably... create- assisted me in creating relationships with people in writing centers.

So I think that it was know, yeah.. .Now what I think about that...

So one- one dissertation boot camp, I helped out I met a met a guy who- I was working at UofL- I met a guy who was working at Berea College, he was, you know, 34:00he was in the PhD program at U of L but he was the career direct- Career Center Director- Career Services Director at Berea College in Berea. And he was my I was assigned to him. So we worked a lot together on his dissertation. And that was the same time as I was debating on whether or not to...become, like...basically quit the Ph. D program...or you know... or continue on with my doctorate and I was really at that- I was at that level and so and Bronwyn doesn't know that so, but so I was making a decision on whether I was going to leave or if I was going to stay...and stay, I mean, not finish my dissertation, just take a job. So I met him and he was at Berea College, and he's like, "You know... we're- you know, we have our director- a writing center director position is going to be open soon, you sh- would really be a really great 35:00candidate for it." And so... I decided to apply and got an interview and then I got a campus visit. And, you know, he was... he was on the search committee... So, um, and then I was hired! And that's where I was for two years.

So, so I was... basically built that program back up before Amy Nichols took over. So... but, yeah, so that's, uh, that's kind of the influence I think I had in terms of, you know, people that come into your life for very different reasons. And, and he did for a very specific reason, which changed my life, and he doesn't know that and he'd probably, like, be all blushy if I told him that, so. But, I mean... yeah, it was it was a pretty big deal, because that changed the course of everything for me. So...yeah, that's it. There's that.

AB: So, who were the administrative staff when you were work at the Writing Center? The director, assistant Director or ...directors? Administrative assistants...

JM: Bronwyn was the director, Adam Robinson was the assistant director, and the 36:00ADs... were obviously in and out. I don't know if you want to know who they were because I don't know if I remember who they were... Me... But...

oh gosh, Ashly Bender was an AD while I was the assistant director of the virtual Writing Center. And I don't remember who else was honestly, I think it was... Jessica Winck- maybe? came in while I was there. She was an assistant director for a while. So yeah, Ashley was in my cohort. So I definitely know that she was part of it. So but that's, that's as far as my brain goes back.

AB: What do you remember about working with any of these people?


JM: I remember Ashly helped a lot with the teaching the Writing Center pedagogy class. She was the one who really started the How We Write blog- or Instagram posts. I'm not sure exactly. I think it was a blog at the time it was like, find someone on campus or in the community, ask them five questions about writing and then it'll be posted. So as a blog or Facebook or something, I can't remember what the- the social media aspect was at the time. But... I don't know if I'll even do that anymore. Do you all do that still? How we-- How I Write! That's what it was called.

AB: We have a blog now, but it is largely drawn from the Writing Center consultants themselves. I do not believe that that program of wandering around asking questions is still active anymore I'm afraid.

JM: Okay, it might have...might have started the blog situation or, you know... something I don't know. Exactly. So, but...Yeah, I um...

Yeah, it's interesting. So it just made me think of something else completely 38:00not related to your question, but anyway, I'll get- maybe that'll come back up again. So yeah, that's all that's- that's all I know about the administrative people. I don't... Then Robin, but she's- I mean, I consider her administration. I'm not sure if she's there if she retired yet. So that's it... or if you know who Robin is.

AB: I do not. Sorry.

JM: Oh, ok. She was a front desk person.

AB: Yeah, Amber these days. Did you know Bronwyn hates pickles?

JM: No, I don't think I did.

AB: I'm surprised. That became very clear to us early on.

JM: What happened? I don't remember this.

AB: We... we have food in our backroom too. And part of it came to me that some of us who have Sam's or Costco membership would just bring back big things of long lasting foodstuffs as a 'we need decompression food. Take of it'. And I brought back a big jar of pickles and he simply insisted that it always be kept closed when pickles were not currently being eaten and whoever had pickles keep their distance from his office.


JM: I'm serious. I've never realized that.

AB: I a.. it has sort of become a slight joke we have. But.. if this was a commonly known thing, or just came up because of my ridiculous jar of pickles.

JM: It- I don't know if it's been- if it's a common thing, so I never knew it... Okay... Funny.

AB: How did the Writing Center change during your time working there?

Um, well, obviously the virtual writing center.

JM: Well, I think it was- I think it was- I was the maybe third virtual Writing Center person. So I don't really remember exactly the timeline and I'm sorry, a 40:00lot of my questions are I don't remember that it was a while ago and ...a... but it's- so far as I know, obviously, that there's been a lot of change in terms of with the location because I remember- you know- when I was there, Bronwyn was, I mean, they were working with everybody trying to get that shit, you know, move to the second floor- I mean the first floor and I was there during that whole initial part of that process so I understand exactly what he was going through because I just went through that here at my institution moving the writing center. So I told him when I saw him last and like, I never want to go through that shit again ever and he's like, "I don't blame you neither do I." so many things, but...

...changes changes changes... I mean, the virtual obviously, right? And I mean... just trying to get more, you know, involved with the distance learning, 41:00folks. I think that's really the biggest change that I saw, but I don't really have... knowledge of what was there before me. We did go through trying to get rid of Tutor Track because that was a colossal failure program. And so getting WC online, I'm so jealous that they got that after I left- like the year after I left, because it's just a better program. So that was a big change too for the people that came in after me. So and then you got the virtual, you know rooms and Bingham that I didn't have either. But that's like that's like structural things that changed. So in terms of pedagogical things, I'm not too sure. So.

AB: Well, um.. Bronwyn mentioned to me that while you were the third person running the VWC, you were the first non-faculty to add, it was the transition point the previous people running it or fac- it was a staff position done by professors that you represented. It's what made you so important for this oral history. You represented the first time the Writing Center, the virtual Writing Center, became really part of the "Writing" Writing Center, and not just a job 42:00held by some tenure track professor.

JM: Really? ...I don't know if that's right, I think... really?

AB: I only know what Bronwyn tells me.

JM: If that's the case, I did not know that. ...Because I thought there was somebody there in that place before me who was another student, so... Oh, okay, cool. I honestly did not know that. So maybe that's why I had a lot of leniency in the things I did. And I could try a lot of different things out.

AB: Cuz their first impression... the virtual Writing Center, its tenure staff, don't tell them what to do. And you get that aura they don't know.

JM: I had no idea! ... I don't know, if he's right about that, so, because... Huh, that's interesting to know. Okay.

AB: I- I'm afraid I only know what I'm told on that one.


JM: Okay. Well, I thought it seriously was not the first person in terms of that decision. So, okay. Well, we did a lot of work in terms of getting folks, you know, on board with what we were doing versus, you know, the synchronous ...and asynchronous- we did a lot! We did mostly- Okay, I did mostly did async- well... started out a lot of asynchronous. I- we did a lot- I did a lot of looking at papers and providing feedback for a lot of difference- a lot of different disciplines and classes. Only my- the end of my second year did we really start doing more video so that was the only you know, once we did the dissertation boot camp once we started doing more- the that was the- that was the first time that we started doing video and that's that-- was it WC Online or was it Tutor Track that we were using? I can't remember exactly, but I... I'm pretty sure it 44:00was to Tutor Track or Google Hangouts or something because I was not there during WC Online, you know, when y'all launch that. So that was right after I left, I'm like 99% sure. So, but yeah maybe that's why everything was so you know, challenging in terms of, you know, buy in and people really interested in things because it sounded very new to them. Maybe that's why because I was the first one, heh! Didn't know- who knew you educated me today on my position.

AB: So we've touched on this a lot and it's probably one of the more important questions given the unique position of- what technology if any, was available use within the center. How was it used for writing for administration?

JM: Okay, so the technology that was in the center, we did have some computers, desktop computers. I think my second year was the- ...we got finally got iPads, 45:00we had five.. and...

I have a very small story. About one- there was one time it was I don't remember what happened or wait- what part of the year but it was in a very busy part of the semester and all the iPads all at one time. These are new. This is New Tech, okay in 2013- 14. And so they all decided they want to update all at the same time, right? So, and there's you had to do a bunch of little things, click throughs to get them to update. And Bronwyn was like, "I just don't have time for this!" And so I was like, "Do you want me to take care of it? Because I can." and he's like, "You want to? T- That's fine." So I'm like Click, click and all updated and stuff. So it was just like this big thing about updating iPads. That was it was I don't know, it sounded- it's funny, knowing what happened and telling it so. But again, technology does, it does something and it- it makes life easier, but also more difficult in certain ways. Obviously, as you know, our relationship with Skype is not the best and so it's ... um ... so it's a the 46:00iPads were new. I don't know what your iPad situation is now, or if you have them still or anything like that, but so that was a new thing. And they started using them in consultations more and more and, and like I said earlier, we didn't have any kind of tech necessarily like rooms to do virtual. Because A: we didn't have a lot of, you know, virtual likes... video calls, it was mostly all asynchronous. And so I did everything from home, I use my own home computer to do that. Sometimes I would come in just to make contact with people and use one of the computers in the office... on maybe like once a week, twice a week because I need to get out of my house and- and it just depended but I had to share it with somebody and that person didn't realize they had to share with me and then that was a thing but anyway, that's another story. So I think you'll have a lot more space and possibly, you know, ownership of things now. So that's uh, so yeah, that's and then of course Tutor Track. Can we just not talk about that?


How's WC online going for you? Are you- Is everything okay ... working well?

AB: It's a fairly straightforward and reliable program and seems. The video appointments are easy and quick to set up. It's just click join and then you're in the conversation. Right? And it's mostly if things go wrong it's the: writer just doesn't show up because- I don't know- they forgot their appointment. Their tech side didn't work but on our side it's very simple. Yeah, hit button. Have conversation.

JM: There was a... I don't know if this is a technology story or anything, but it's- it's something it's a mistake that I made. And because I was lazy, I think and there was a whole- there was a whole semester we were using Tutor Track where I did not log a single client report. I don't think anyone ever noticed that it didn't happen. So I had to go through and actually log client reports 48:00after that, but I mean, we're talking I didn't do a single damn one of them. And I just guess I just didn't feel like it was necessary. It was never something that was instilled in me as being necessary until I got the email. "Seems like we're missing client reports." I was like, "Oh, I guess I should have done those." So, but yeah, and now I mean, I'm almost like, I have no issues with student- my consultants doing client reports. They all do them consistently. So, which is really interesting considering but, uh, so I've Yeah, considering my background with client reports. So anyway, there's that.

AB: We've established, it was using Tutor Trake at the time, was that the primary way students signed up for appointments then?

JM: Yes. And they had to- they could not go online... and sign up, I don't think, I think they had to call and Robin had to put them into the into the system. I think. You might have to clarify that one with Bronwyn, but I- I don't 49:00think that-- could they? ...I don't know but that was the that was the primary one and there it was always had technical problems always and it was it was always down there are missing appointments and it was incredibly expensive software so that's after I think so many and I think we had consultants that actually wrote a wrote an academic article about Tutor Track two and the problems of it. I can't remember what part that was at but um, but yeah, right after I left we got WC online which is- which has really changed a lot of things. So

yeah, that was the primary tech at the time.

AB: Were there still walk-ins?

JM: Yes. Definitely. Definitely still walk ins. Lots of walk-ins.

AB: Were walk-ins more common because to Tutor Tracks unreliability and difficulty to execute?

JM: ...I can't answer that... Yes or no- but We did have lots of folks that came in and said have an appointment and they weren't on the system and


AB:Oh, no!

JM: Yeah. Or they, there was some kind of glitch. Just always that. So it was just a terrible program and so things would go missing it would go down. It was... Yeah, so. But yeah, walk-ins are pretty common and I'm not sure if you all do walk-ins now but or if you even have time to do walk-ins if there's even the availability for that with how busy y'all are. But yeah, there's still walk-ins when I was there.

AB: We have them on occasion. Some people don't like to use the Internet, and sometimes we do have enough time. They're just not near, you know, midterms and finals when if you didn't plan ahead, you don't get an appointment.

JM: Right. Yeah, see.

AB: So you've mentioned that you set up the dissertation boot camp. Was their any-

JM: Virtual.

AB: Virtual dissertation boot camp. Was there any other works, outside of the 51:00usual consultations needed to the Writing Center, like class presentations, workshops, creating handouts or reference resources?

JM: We did workshops with faculty on the Shelby campus because a lot- of a lot of the faculty that we work with online were out at the Shelby campus. And so we would do- what meaning I would do once a semester. I thought there was somebody else maybe Adam went with me, there was always two of us, I think that went out there and did presentations and workshops with them about what we do and what we did. And there'd be handouts involved with that, and how to contact me to do... you know, presentations if needed be but they they're all online, they teach online, so there's not the necessary- there's not the necessity for presentation in the class. there was that and the I also helped with the actual dissertation boot camp, which is the one that's face to face, so, which was a- that- that's where I met the person that was the Career Services Director at 52:00Berea. You know, and also met a variety of other people doing that because I did that for a couple years, the face to face one. So that was a fascinating programming and doing the marketing videos and stuff like that, but other than that... I can't really think of anything else I did in terms of projects. That was enough. That was a lot.

AB: Does sound like it.

JM: Yeah.

AB: Well, we sure are grinding through all of the more specific questions. So now we reach truly the general final ones of: Firstly, do you have any copies of any photos or documents that you would like to share, you don't have to, like, pull them off your desk right now. But things that you would be interested in seeing added to a grand oral history of the university global Writing Center.

JM: I'm sure there's something somewhere I can find.

AB: All right. And finally, is there anything else you remember that is important that I would ask about? A fun story? A weird anecdote? A historical footnote you believe should be in the historical footnotes?


JM: I think that I mean, I thought about this while you are asking me these questions and I was- I was Nicole Dugan's, Director Writing Center Director when she was at Berea College as an undergraduate and I don't know if you know her or not, I'm sure you do. Okay. So yeah, so when I came in, you know, she was sophomore junior or something like that, and we work together the whole two years I was there and, you know, really, she- she's made an amazing writing center person, and she will make an amazing director if that's what she wants to do someday, but it was just it's, it's really, it's really comforting, in kind of like, in a way to know that someone that you have worked with and, you know, has tried to push through a process and you know, an educational experience that 54:00they go to the same institution and have the same kind of experiences as you. And, because we talked a lot about experiences that U of L that I'm sure you know, were not always the greatest and so. So it's- it's- it's- it's really nice to see, you know, someone that you've had an influence and you've had suggestion, you know, towards someone's life goals and so, you know, she's, it's just nice to know that she's out there doing the things that she loves because of the- hopefully somewhat, you know, influenced by, you know, the work that we've done together, and you know and so I hope that more like relationships are formed at you know, because of that, like Louisville being- you know, the- the nucleus of relationships like that. So, I don't know, I thought that that was something that needs to be added. And I don't know if you're talking to her about the oral history or for this or not, but, yeah, again, none of that relationship would have ever happened if I hadn't been, you know, put into a dissertation boot camp with one person, you know, who was working at Berea at 55:00the time. So I wouldn't be here at the institution I never would have thought I would be at if it wasn't for the- the Writing Center at U of L either. So and now I'm about to potentially host our regional conference for SCWCA here. So who never- who ever would have thought that?! You know, from me basically saying, sure, "I'll work in the Writing Center Bronwyn" one semester, you know, I would be in this position. It's like this crazy butterfly effect or something like that, that never would have expected. So and who knows what how it's influenced other people's lives, so that I don't, you know, know, are not in contact with anymore. But I think a lot of folks that, you know, graduate and have been working in writing centers or an AD in a writing center are doing some type of work or at least are influenced by the work that their writing center does at the campus they're at now so. So that's what I think anyway. Anything else?


AB: That's all the questions I had on the sheet. And any of the Bonus questions I had thought of kind of got covered in- Well, with very open ended questions one often gets the answers to other questions as part of the open ended question.

JM: Right. Yeah...Yeah, but I don't know. I don't have anything else necessarily. Right now. I'm sure. I mean, I honestly would never- I would have... without Aubrie Cox, I probably would have never finished my dissertation. So, I mean, the Writing Center at Louisville has had significant influence on my life, probably more than I'll ever know. And so, I mean, in terms of relationships, professionally and personally...

I always think okay, what would Bronwyn do the way he- you know, I mean, I should have like the bracelet right? So, because that is like this unintentional 57:00mentorship that he probably doesn't even realize and- that effect he's had on me. And so there's lots of different ways that people in the Writing Center, the Writing Center itself and the work that we did at Louisville, how it's influenced how I work as an educator and how I am as a person, professionally and personally. Because I look back at, you know, 2010 when I came in as a PhD student, how different I am now, how completely different my thought processes are, so and how I view people and students and educators. So, I also learned at U of L, what kind of educator I did not want to be, and that was just as influential. So yeah, not the Writing Center. But at U of L. That's about it.

AB: I learned my running gag in the military was, you can learn as much from bad leaders, maybe more, than you can learn from good leaders.

JM: Oh, I absolutely 1,000% agree with that.


So, yeah, there was a it- was it was a lot. So I don't think it's any. It's that different now, but considering what I know- what I've heard... that it was pretty... There's a lot of bad. When I was there in the program.

AB: I think it's half inevitable in academia.

JM: You know, true.

That's fair enough. Yeah.

AB: There are some brilliant researchers who were awful teachers. Some brilliant academics who can create compelling articles but who should not for a day, be trying to teach other people things in a room. You have fantastic teachers who... struggle.

JM: Are bad at publishing.

AB: Right. Like, "I don't want to publish an article. It's terrible, but all of my students love me and become great academics because of me." It's hard to find people who perfect at all of these. So sometimes we just have to end up in a class with the brilliant academic or the...brilliant researcher who's...


JM: Yeah, I totally understand.

AB: Who's doing their best. Would be generous.

Well, I would like to thank you for your time.... And your willingness to be a part of this program. I will probably- I think I will be emailing you the thing that needs to be signed. I believe it can be signed digitally, but honestly, I'm not 100% sure myself. I'm sort of winging parts of this process. But once again, thank you for your time. It's been a pleasure, though transcribing it will probably be less of a pleasure.

JM: Oh, I've done that. It is going to suck for you. Sorry. Just go online and pay someone online to do it.

AB: Go to Fiverr


Thank you. Have a wonderful day.

JM: You too, and let me know if you need anything. Okay?

AB: Alright, and a wonderful weekend too because it's Friday.

JM: It is. Alrighty. You enjoy the weekend. Thanks again.

AB: Bye.

JM: Okay, bye.