Two academic centers to merge under one name

Officials said this change will benefit more students.

Infographic created by Julie Christie
Infographic created by Julie Christie

The Math and Science Resource Center and the Russell Conwell Learning Center will become one program to provide students with tutoring, study groups and study-skill workshops in one location.

“Our goal is for two-way interaction in just one place,” said Peter Jones, senior vice provost for undergraduate studies. “We had the MSRC and Russell Conwell doing the same thing in two places with two staffs and two directors, so we put them together to create CLASS.”

CLASS, the Center for Learning and Student Success, will partner with the Writing Center to create the Learning Commons—one-stop learning center where students are offered many programs to advance their skills.

Students will have access to peer assisted study sessions, coaching for study skills, tutoring, retreat programs for graduate students, workshops to improve writing skills and conversation starters for English as a second language and international students.

Mona Zaoudeh, who currently heads the MSRC, will direct CLASS.

Assistant Vice Provost and Director of the Writing Center Lori Salem said the Learning Commons is pushing for exposure and creativity.

“If people have things they want to see as programs, we want them to tell us,” Salem explained. “We’re just at the beginning.”

“It used to be all walk-ins with people trying to learn everything for a test the very next day,” Jeff Durelli, a junior electrical engineering major and tutor in CLASS, said. “But now we will work with students over a longer period of time.”

Durelli added the new program will allow tutors to work more closely with students.

“It’s a good change,” Anastasia Checchio, a senior pre-med neuroscience major and tutor, said. “Everything we offer is beneficial and now it reaches a wider range of students.”

With the inception of CLASS, the Russell Conwell Center for Learning will close at the end of August. Programs there, including Upward Bound and Summer Bridge, will be absorbed by other existing programs.

The College of Education will now head Upward Bound, a federal program that helps high school students prepare for college. Summer Bridge is a summer program for conditional-acceptance students to receive intensive tutoring. Federal funding for Summer Bridge ended this month and a renewal has been applied for but not yet awarded, Jones said.

“We’re not spending any money with this,” Jones said. “We’re reallocating grants from Russell Conwell and putting it towards hiring students and expanding or improving programs.”

The Writing Center will remain in Tuttleman and CLASS will take over space the MSRC occupied in 1810 Liacouras Walk. The Writing Center will be relocated to the new library when it is completed in 2018 and will be joined by an extension of CLASS so students can continue to get one-stop services.

“These all used to be independent programs, but we’ve brought them under one umbrella,” Salem said of the Learning Center. “Now we’ve created a forum for talking about what academic support is.”

The Learning Commons, which includes CLASS and the Writing Center, opens today.

Julie Christie can be reached at or on Twitter @ChristieJules.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.