LAU launches writing center
LAU inaugurates its first writing center for students with a ceremonial ribbon cutting.
Dr. Samira Aghacy (3rd from left), dean of the School of Arts and Sciences in Byblos, Dr. Nashat Mansour (2nd from right), assistant dean of the school, Dr. Kristiaan Aercke (center), chair of the Humanities Department, and faculty members from the department gathered for the occasion.
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Faculty members crowded a corridor of LAU Beirut’s Nicol Hall May 12 to witness the inauguration of the university’s first writing center.
Applause rang as Dr. Rula Diab, LAU assistant professor of English and the center’s founding director, snipped the ceremonial ribbon with a pair of golden scissors to officially declare the center open in Room 206.
“A major purpose of this center is to create a culture of writing at the university,” Diab says.
“I hope the writing center will contribute to the improvement of our students’ English skills,” said Dr. Samira Aghacy, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences in Beirut, a moment before the ribbon was cut.
With only about a month left in the semester, Diab says the next few weeks will serve as a pilot period before the center goes into full throttle next year.
The center will be open the remainder of the semester on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00-11:00 a.m. and 2:30-4:30 p.m. for any student to drop in where Diab and Dr. Jacqueline Hajjar, the center’s assistant director and associate professor in the Humanities Department, will be there to help.
“The center is not here for students to drop off their papers and have us edit them,” Diab explains. “We want the students to be able develop their own writing skills.”
Next year, the center will be staffed by faculty members and graduate assistants for hour-long one-on-one sessions with students.
Diab served as the director of the American University of Beirut’s writing center for one year before accepting a teaching position at LAU about two years ago. In fall 2008, she headed a committee comprised of LAU faculty to consider the establishment of the center by the Humanities Department under the School of Arts and Sciences.
Diab prepared a proposal outlining the rationale for establishing a writing center in line with LAU’s academic goals and oriented toward the needs of students, to help them gain confidence and become more independent writers.
After gaining approval from the Humanities Department and the School Academic Council, Diab presented the proposal during an international conference in Al Ain, UAE, of the MENA Writing Centers Alliance, a regional affiliate of the International Writing Center Association, both of which Diab is a member. The conference directly addressed the issue of starting, running and expanding writing centers in the region.
“Participation in this conference was a valuable opportunity to obtain feedback from writing-center professionals regarding establishing a writing center, learning from others’ experiences in writing-center practice, and networking with other writing-center professionals in the region,” Diab says.