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Writing Center open house welcomes new interim director, Professor Darlene Johnston

New interim director, Professor Darlene Johnston, discusses Writing Center services with students. (Northern Review photo/ McKenzie Wilson)

The campus-wide power outage on Tuesday, Aug. 28 disrupted both lights and air-conditioning, but it didn’t discourage over 100 students from attending the Writing Center open house. Students found free snacks, a gift card drawing, and peer tutors explaining the center’s services as they entered the doors. These services have expanded ever since Dr. Justine Post joined the Ohio Northern faculty in 2015.

Post became both an Assistant Professor of English and the Writing Center director immediately following her graduate studies at the University of Michigan. She added the Writing Room, where students can write and ask questions with a tutor present, and the center’s assistive email address during her first year at ONU. She also developed services for faculty and staff members. These services include one-on-one instructional consultations, interdisciplinary writing groups, and an annual writing retreat.

Post created the open houses to encourage students to take advantage of these writing opportunities.

She said, “If students know where the Writing Center is and feel comfortable coming inside, they will be more likely to use our services when they need them.”

“When they need them” is a key phrase to the director. In a sort of business paradox, the center ultimately attempts to help students not need its services.

“One of the most important goals we try to accomplish in the Writing Center is to make sure that students need our services a little less every time they come in for a tutoring session,” Post claimed. “This is the key to ensuring that students develop skills that will benefit them long after they leave ONU.”

The Writing Center holds an annual open house on the second floor of Heterick Library for new and returning students alike. This year the door propped open even wider to welcome not just these students but also a new interim director, ONU professor Darlene Johnston. Johnston will be taking over for Post while she is on maternity leave.

Post has confidence Professor Johnston has the abilities to fill the position. Johnston has held a variety of positions at ONU over the past 12 years as well as at other nearby universities like Bluffton and Findlay. While completing her doctorate program, she also took a writing program administration course during which she interviewed Post for a project. This project was a stepping stone towards her interim position this fall.

“I knew Justine’s philosophies behind how she ran things and hoped I could continue that legacy while she was on leave,” Johnston said. “I have also really enjoyed getting to know our tutors. We have a great group of dedicated students ready to help their peers.”

Both the director and the interim director of the Writing Center are facing new experiences and responsibilities this fall. While Johnston is “looking forward to serving the campus community,” Post is facing a learning curve on how to be a mom.

“Taking on any new challenge is both exhilarating and anxiety-inducing, and having a baby is no different,” she said. “I don’t quite know what to expect yet, but I look forward to figuring it out as I go.”