On Friday afternoon, UT held an event in HSS to honor the official dedication of the Writing Center. The center, located on the top floor of HSS, has been a free resource for students since its beginnings as an english lab in 1947. It provides a variety of heavily-utilized writing services—the center had 18,000 visits last year—including essay, application and citation assistance.
The center fills several different rooms in HSS, and it is equipped with a large screen that constantly displays live streams of kittens, a sight that aims to comfort a stressed-out student.
Friday, UT dedicated the center to alumna Judith Anderson Herbert. For the occasion, the outside and inside of HSS was dotted with orange and white balloons, a sure indication of a celebration. The top floor of the building was lined with gray tables adorned with flowers and orange sashes, leading the way to the Writing Center at the southernmost end of the building.
Herbert was a 1963 UT graduate, and she, alongside her husband Jim, has been a longtime supporter of UT students and, specifically, the Writing Center. The Herberts’ recent donation to the center has allowed for a significant extension of resources, including hiring more tutors and offering new services.
Herbert College of Agriculture is also named after the couple.
Dr. Kirsten Benson, who has been the director of the Writing Center since 1996, explained the university’s decision to honor Herbert at the center.
“The Herbert family gave us a really nice gift, and she’s just been a tremendous supporter of the Writing Center,” Benson said.
Faculty, staff, students and the Herbert family gathered in the center for the dedication presentation, and each attendee was given the very appropriate gift of a UT pen and pad of paper. Several speakers offered words of gratitude to the Herbert family, including Head of the English Department Dr. Allen Dunn, Senior Philosophy Lecturer Dr. Alex Feldt, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dr. Theresa Lee and former UT student Brittany Banner, who shared how greatly the Writing Center improved her collegiate career.
Chancellor Donde Plowman then took the stage to introduce the Herberts. She first expressed her love for the Writing Center’s resources by stating that she wishes she was back in school so that she could experience the impact the new and improved center will have on students’ lives.
“It’s gonna help people write better, and it’s gonna help everyone who walks through here think better, organize their thoughts and have a better opportunity to affect the world,” Plowman said.
She explained that with the Herberts’ generous donation, the center will have the ability to operate more efficiently and continue to greatly improve students’ learning experience.
“Through this, the Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center, all of our students will benefit from your generosity,” Plowman said.
Judith Herbert herself then addressed the crowd. She was an English major in college, and she explained that her passion for helping college students improve their english skills began when she would sort through applications for her and her husband’s business and noticed the low quality of young peoples’ writing abilities.
“I’ve always been heartbroken, astonished at what poor english they used,” Herbert said.
She explained that nowadays, she has reached a point in her life where she can finally give back to the university that she loves so dearly, hence her generous donation to the Writing Center.
“Now that Jim and I have reached the stage in our lives where we can give back to the things that matter to us, you know how much UT means to me,” Herbert said.
At the end of the presentations, a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially dedicate the center ensued. The Herberts held a pair of orange scissors that were several feet to long to cut the ribbon, and the five other speakers and Benson held smaller scissors and simultaneously cut the ribbon. Then, Jim and Judith Herbert together pulled back an orange curtain to reveal a plaque on a wall of the Writing Center donning Judith’s name and picture.
The ribbon-cutting was followed by a reception with refreshments.