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story.lead_photo.caption The bell tower at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith is shown in this file photo. ( David Gottschalk)

FORT SMITH -- University of Arkansas at Fort Smith students will eventually have a new writing center at their disposal thanks to a recent federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The university announced Monday in a news release that it had received the five-year, $2.25 million grant. The grant is part of the Title III Strengthening Institutions Program and will allow the university to create a dedicated campus writing center, provide accelerated literacy programming through a Summer Bridge Program, and support faculty development in academic literacy teaching strategies.

The grant was co-authored by Cammie Sublette, professor of literature and head of the university's English department, and Monica Luebke, an associate professor of English.

Sublette said the writing center will be located on campus in part of the old gym, which will be fully renovated and equipped with state-of-the-art technology.

"The writing center will have two carts with laptop computers, as well as a lot of [personal computers]," Sublette said. "It will also have a print station and it will have, eventually, a 24/7 online component so students can get help from the writing center even if they're not on campus."

Sublette said the university wants the facility to be a robust and usable writing center so students of all levels will be encouraged to use it not only for presentations and projects but also to write resumes and prepare for the workforce.

"We're making sure that this is a writing center that's a working writing center," Sublette said. "It's not just for writing research papers and composition classes. It's for everyone at every level in every discipline."

Renovation will start during the university's winter break, according to the release. It is expected to be available for use in fall 2020.

Sublette said the grant will allow the university to offer co-requisite courses to qualifying students at no charge. The courses will help students get through their first college-level composition class before their first fall semester begins, meaning they will start the semester with a composition class already completed for free.

"These are students who, in the past, would have been placed into developmental education courses, but this grant is also helping us scale up in concert with the Arkansas Department of Higher Education and all of the universities and colleges in Arkansas," Sublette said. "We're all moving to a co-requisite model, which means the student is in a support class, as well as the composition class, simultaneously."

Sublette said such an approach speeds the students' progress toward graduation and saves students money. It is also good for the region because it means students enter the workforce sooner, she said.

Sublette and Luebke submitted the application for the grant this past summer, and Luebke credited support from other members of the faculty and administration with helping the university receive it.

"Our names may be listed as authors, but this was truly a campus-wide effort," Luebke said in the news release. "We want to thank Chancellor [Terisa] Riley, Provost [Georgia] Hale, Dean [Paul] Hankins, and the dozens of other faculty and staff who helped us craft the application and who will continue to help us coordinate the grant over the coming years."

The grant money became available to the university Oct. 1.

Chancellor Terisa Riley said the grant's impact will be felt throughout campus.

"Literacy and writing are the foundation upon which a successful collegiate career is built," Riley said in the release. "This funding allows us to put programs into place that will benefit all students, regardless of their major. I applaud the hard work of our faculty and all those who made this award possible."

State Desk on 10/15/2019

Print Headline: UAFS gets grant for writing center


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