UFV Writing Centre to expand into Academic Success Centre


UFV is expanding its Writing Centre into an Academic Success Centre to increase support for students.

The new centre will expand the support available to students across all disciplines, in addition to continuing to offer writing support. The change to a cross-disciplinary, faculty-led, student-peer driven Academic Success Centre model is in line with best practices across Canada and the US.

Work is underway on a transition plan with the aim to launch the new Academic Success Centre in the Fall of 2015. An advisory  committee will provide input into this process, with representatives from UFV and the UFV Student Union Society. Students and faculty will continue to be served by the existing Writing Centre during this transition. There are no budget savings nor position reductions resulting from this change. We are expanding the level of service and support for students within the existing budget model.

UFV administration is working with the best intentions for the diverse range of students and their associated needs.
– Ryan Petersen, President, UFV Student Union Society [Read full UFV SUS statement here]

Important information regarding the Academic Success Centre

Recently there has been inaccurate information circulating in regard to the expansion of the Writing Centre into the Academic Success Centre.

We admit we should have done more initially to foster broader consultation and communication with the community in regard to this project.

While there were certain confidentiality requirements due to human resource considerations, we have learned from this experience and we’re seeking better ways to communicate that are consistent with what we all value about UFV.

UFV administration recently met with the UFV Student Union Society board and are pleased with their open approach and appreciate their February 12, 2015 statement on the Academic Success Centre. Their view is in part, that “UFV administration is working with the best intentions for the diverse range of students and their associated needs.” We encourage you to read the SUS board’s full statement on this project.

UFV is dedicated to an environment of freedom of expression and open debate, and it is vital to base this discussion on accurate and relevant information.

In this light, below you’ll find answers to some of the questions you may have about the transformation of this service into the Academic Success Centre.

Questions and Answers:

Is the Writing Centre closing?

No, the Writing Centre is not closing. The university will be expanding our Writing Centre into an Academic Success Centre to increase support to students across all disciplines, in addition to continuing to offer writing support. The change to a cross-disciplinary, faculty-led, and peer-driven model is in line with best practices at universities and colleges across Canada and the United States.

Will the Writing Centre be open for the remainder of this term?

Yes, the Writing Centre will remain open until the end of classes this term and the transition to the Academic Success Centre will take place over the summer months.

When will the new Academic Success Centre open?

UFV is developing a transition plan and aims to successfully launch the new Academic Success Centre in the Fall of 2015.

Is this a result of Government or UFV budget cuts?

No, this is not a cost-cutting measure. The budget dedicated to teaching writing will not change and there are not any layoffs associated with the transformation to the Academic Success Centre.

How many people will be supporting students in the new centre?

There will be one faculty position and two staff positions in the Academic Success Centre and approximately 30 to 40 accredited student peer tutors. The university will have more people supporting writing across the campus than under the current model.

Will the quality of instruction suffer?

As always, we will strive for exemplary quality of instruction. The three employees in the Academic Success Centre will likely hold Master’s or PhD-level degrees. Plus, we will have peer tutors who will be carefully selected for their academic standing and their ability to teach. Peer tutors will receive rigorous training through an accredited training program.

Is UFV off-loading teaching to less expensive student peer tutors?

This is not a cost-cutting measure. Our budget does not change. This will be a faculty led and cross-disciplinary, peer-driven process. This model is widely accepted as a best educational practice across Canada and the US. The peer tutors will also be paid for their tutoring sessions, so this creates an excellent student employment opportunity.

What training will the peer tutors have?

The UFV peer tutoring model will be certified by the College Reading and Learning Society. Over 1,000 college and university tutor training programs around the globe have received International Tutor Training Program Certification from this internationally recognized certification body.

SFU, UBC, and hundreds of other colleges and universities across North America use this model.

Will this be the only place students receive writing instruction?

UFV is very pleased to be able to provide the Academic Success Centre to students, but it’s not the only way for students to learn how to raise their writing to the next level. We’re fortunate we have highly qualified and very dedicated faculty who teach writing to students in classrooms in many areas of study across our campuses. UFV’s small class sizes facilitate excellent student-faculty interaction.

Administration has been quoted as saying this is a more cost effective delivery method – how so?

More students across a wider range of disciplines and needs will be served with our current resources. Right now, peer tutoring programs exist across campus with no coordinated oversight or support; with limited administrative coordination and resources. The Academic Success Centre will bring these initiatives together, creating synergies and faster delivery methods to better serve students who require learning assistance.

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Eric Davis, Provost and Vice President Academic eric.davis@ufv.ca
Jody Gordon, Vice President Students jody.gordon@ufv.ca
Maureen Wideman, Director, Teaching and Learning maureen.wideman@ufv.ca






4 Responses to UFV Writing Centre to expand into Academic Success Centre

  1. Angela February 17, 2015 at 8:46 am #

    If this is truly an expansion of service for students and will provide the administrative support the WC so desperately deserves, then I am happy. But I have one concern…

    “…there are not any layoffs associated with the transformation to the Academic Success Centre.”

    Anyone familiar with the Writing Centre or clever enough to use the directory knows that there are 6 faculty members working in the WC. Maybe I need a math tutor because I did not think 1 (faculty) + 2 (staff) = 6. You can speak in veiled terms of full-time equivalent positions all you want, but at the end of the day these employees are individual people, not a set number of equivalents.

    The institution is glossing over the apparent position loss. Are these amazing faculty members not considered “laid off” because they don’t hold permanent contracts? Are they being reassigned to another area of the university? Even if they are being reassigned, they are still losing their positions because there will not be comparable ones outside of the Academic Success Centre. I understand that the administration may be hesitant to detail “human resource considerations” considering the budget and employment climate at this university for the past few years, but this brazen misinformation does not sit well either.

    • Leslie Courchesne February 19, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

      To clarify regarding the question raised in the comment above, all five people who currently hold full-time positions in the Writing Centre have been offered permanent faculty positions. Four have been offered reassignment to teaching positions in the College of Arts, and one has been offered the faculty position of Coordinator of the Academic Success Centre. Within the College of Arts, the four Writing Centre faculty will teach writing to students in the classroom. They will also be released from some of their classroom teaching work to enable them to continue to provide support for the teaching of writing across varied disciplines.

      There will be three permanent employees working in the Academic Success Centre. While not all of these employees will be the same people who filled instructor-level positions in the Writing Centre, they will be highly qualified professionals who will hold master’s or PhD-level credentials.

  2. Henry L. February 20, 2015 at 1:07 am #

    We know SUS never has anything much worth listening to when they talk about students, which is supposedly the area they should be experts in, so why would anyone take them seriously when they parrot the words of UFV admin scrambling to justify an HR-disaster-level non-communication?

    Perhaps, in order to facilitate discussion of the art of rhetoric, this blog post (and its associated messages blasted across our myUFV accounts and emails) could be used in classrooms as an example of a pseudo-exhaustive piece of writing that, in the end, portrays the university as one that appeals to institutions outside itself to justify decisions, rather than having any academic leadership of its own. Lots to work through here!

    My #hottake: UFV’s admin leadership is not in the game of individual style, it has no flair for the personal, it is trending toward cowardice, matched by a sense of desperation and disorganization. It is shoring up its brand with one tab open each to the Kwantlen, SFU, and UBC front pages, and fending away searching eyes with a not-negligible amount of the rest of its energy. Good luck, all.

  3. Aly Sczebel February 25, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

    This is ridiculous, listen to your students and our protests, tweets, petitions. Instead of reinventing the wheel you could try supporting and valuing your employees. Keep the writing centre.