The Writing Center’s Vision Statement

The Writing Center at MSU operates with a broad vision of collaboration in the MSU community; peer-to-peer consultations with students, faculty, and the community allow us to expand ideas of literacy and composing beyond traditional models and geographic boundaries.

With this vision for both the academy and the global community in mind, The Writing Center is committed to

  • Working with and developing multiple literacies
  • Encouraging and facilitating collaboration
  • Supporting interdisciplinary methods of thinking, writing, and researching
  • Promoting diverse understandings of writing and the disciplines in which they are situated
  • Utilizing new technologies in pedagogically responsible ways

This philosophy then guides our programmatic developments and drives change as needed.

We believe this expansive view of writing, literacy, and pedagogy enables us to meet the ever-changing needs of a diverse constituency and challenges us to continually grow as The Writing Center at MSU.


Meet The Directors

Trixie SmithDr. Trixie Smith

I’m Trixie G. Smith, Director of The Writing Center and a member of the faculty in Rhetoric & Writing as well as the Center for Gender in Global Contexts at Michigan State University. Since joining the faculty at MSU in August 2007, I have taught WRA/ENG 395 Writing Center Theory and Practice (formerly ENG 391) AL 891 Writing Center Theory and Administration, AL 878 Composition Studies, and AL 980 Queer Rhetorics. I’m excited to begin teaching for the Women’s Studies program, including the core course for our soon to be finalized LGBTQ concentration.

After earning a BA in English and Elementary Education from Mobile College, I spent several years teaching middle and high school students in southern Alabama. I then headed to The University of South Carolina where I earned an MA in English (Renaissance Drama), an MLIS in Library and Information Science, and a PhD in Composition and Rhetoric, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies. My teaching and research are infused with issues of gender and activism even as they revolve around writing center theory and practice, writing across the curriculum, writing pedagogy, and teacher training. Likewise these areas often intersect with my interests in pop culture, service learning, and the idea that we’re just humans learning with/from other humans (you know, with bodies, feelings, lives outside the academy). I love it when my interests are able to intersect in faculty workshops, conference sessions, and professional development in the writing center.

Recent publications include Movies, Music, and More: Pop Culture in the English Studies Classoom (with Joseph Darowski, Fountainhead Press, 2011), the textbook The Pop Culture Zone: Writing Critically about Popular Culture (with Allison Smith and Stacia Watkins, Cengage/Wadsworth, 2009), and Teaching in the Pop Culture Zone: Using Popular Culture in the Writing Classroom (with Allison Smith and Rebecca Bobbitt, Cengage/Wadsworth, 2009). Other publications include a chapter in (E)merging Identities: Graduate Students in the Writing Center, several articles in Southern Discourse, and COMPbiblio: Leaders and Influences in Composition Theory and Practice (with Allison Smith and Karen Wright, Fountainhead Press, 2007) — a reference book focusing on the career arcs of leaders in composition studies. Upcoming work includes The WAC/WID Handbook (with Allison Smith in 2012), a second edition of The Pop Culture Zone in 2014, and a chapter in Supporting Faculty Writing, co-written with members of one of the faculty writing groups facilitated out of The Writing Center. I am also one of the series editors for the Fountainhead Press X Series for Professional Development.

You can email Trixie at smit1254@msu.edu


Dianna BaldwinDr. Dianna Baldwin

“Who am I and what am I doing here?” is a prompt I typically give to my students the first day of class, and I’ve always found it to be very effective, so I’ll try it out here.

My name is Dianna . . . which is another thing I like to get clear up front with anyone I meet.  Not “Mrs.” Baldwin, not Dr. Baldwin, and NOT Diane . . . simply Dianna.  I came to be an Associate Director of the Writing Center at MSU in 2008 while still completing my dissertation at Middle Tennessee State University.  I studied 19th century British Literature and completed my Masters thesis on none other than Charles Dickens, but by the time I was completing that degree, I knew I wanted to shift the focus for my PhD to writing.  And not just traditional “text” writing, but high-tech writing.  The kind of writing that requires more than a word processor or a pen and paper to accomplish.

This makes The Writing Center a perfect place.  It is a playground for me.  I get to experiment with all forms of digital writing and composing and get paid to do so.  I explore video games and virtual worlds in the writing process; I investigate how comics create meaning in different ways and how students can use this medium for their own rhetorical purposes; I research how things like tablets can be used in the writing process as a means of creation and not just consumption; and best of all, I am privileged to work with students each and every day of my life . . . how wonderful is that?

So to answer the question I began with, I am a digital (though not native) rhetorician who is here at The Writing Center at MSU to play, explore, teach, be taught, and create a space where others writers feel free and encouraged to do the same.

You can email Dianna at baldw145@msu.edu


Joseph CheatleDr. Joseph Cheatle

I am currently an Associate Director of the Writing Center at Michigan State University. As an Associate Director, I help coordinate nine writing center locations on campus and on online as well as a staff of nearly 100. I am passionate about providing writing center services for all students on campus. In addition to my administrative duties, I also teach classes in composition studies for graduate students and the peer tutor training course for undergraduate students.

I earned my Ph.D.  in English from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I have previously taught at Case Western Reserve University, Miami University, and Wilberforce University. My teaching pedagogy reflects my commitment to a collaborative learning environment where students engage in diverse perspectives while entering broader discourses and conversations; furthermore, I encourage students to be lifelong learners and thinkers capable of understanding and creating complex arguments in an increasingly diverse and connected world.

My research interests include writing center theory and praxis as well as multimodal/multiliteracy composition and the rhetoric of national identity. In all of my work, I focus on issues of discourse communities, particularly how discourse communities are created, the standards for those communities, and how they are regulated. I am also interested in how discourse communities can be challenged and contested.

You can email Joseph at cheatlej@msu.edu