Berkeley Hosts National Writing Center Conference

On November first through third, Berkeley will host an event never held at a high school before. The prestigious Writing Center National Convention has chosen Berkeley as its 2013 location. According to UD English teacher and Writing Center director Tom Brandt, Berkeley will host around 100 different high schools and universities, including George Mason, Penn State, Notre Dame, and University of Tampa.

The convention’s theme is “the year of the writer.” The idea behind the theme is to put a focus on how a tutorial can shape the tutee into becoming a better writer.

The event this year will be comprised of around 70 different schools, with nearly 400 undergraduates, graduates, and professors interested in learning more about writing centers. With such a large number of people attending, this event needed quite a lot of planning. The writing center had to create a website, advertise the conference, and ask people to submit proposals.  Around one hundred and seventy proposals for this convention were sent to Berkeley. From here, they were reviewed and then accepted, denied, or revised.  In addition, the Writing Center staff had to get professors for proofing, find speakers for the event, find hotels for all the presenters, and arrange for transportation to and from these hotels. Furthermore, to prepare for opening day, the Writing Center had to find locations for presentations, work with the tech department to provide Wi-Fi for all presenters, assemble an army of writing center tutors as volunteers to help with registration and facilitate, and work with Sage and other vendors to provide meals for everyone.

Nearly 120 sessions will occur during this event. Beginning on Friday afternoon at 4:30, round eight different classrooms will host the conferences simultaneously. This busy schedule will continue through Saturday and Sunday morning. There will be special events as well, hosted by alumni Marty Baron and Kristin Gillsi. Baron will deliver the keynote address and Gillsi will head the opening ceremony.

According to Writing Center tutor Sarah Cohen, there will also be many different sessions hosted by Writing Center members at Berkeley and from other schools. Berkeley’s presenters include the Writing Center’s self-study, blog, eat-and-speak, and publicity groups. For example, Writing Center tutor Karaghen Hudson will be presenting on “what it means to be a tutor.” Other members will present a compilation of findings from Skype sessions with other high schools and universities around the country.

Although this event has taken a large amount of planning, the Berkeley community is excited. We are lucky to host such an incredible event..  Talking about how Berkeley was able to obtain this privilege, Brandt said, “I submitted a bid to the steering committee in November, and it was accepted unanimously.” Considering all the other universities that sent bids, this unanimous vote was a very large honor to the Berkeley community, demonstrating how far Berkeley has come since its inception. We are not only attending national events but also hosting them on our own campus. Many members of the Berkeley Writing Center have been to events at other universities, but never before have these prestigious universities come to our school. The convention is sure to be exciting, but also a little nerve-wracking. .  “I’m excited for our school and our center that we found such a unique way to celebrate twenty years of service to the school.  I’m nervous that we are venturing into unknown territory, but I’m encouraged by the strength of the Berkeley community,” said Brandt. Be sure to wish Writing Center members luck for their presentations!     Learn more at the Writing Center Convention’s website: or at the Berkeley Writing Center’s blog at If you would like to help in any way, contact UD English Teacher Jeff Righter at [email protected].