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

Dr. 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

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


Rachel Robinson

I am fortunate enough to be one of the interim assistant directors for the 2018-2019 year. Currently, I’m a third-year PhD student in Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures Dept. (WRAC) studying the rhetoric and embodiment of imposter syndrome in academic spaces with queer and feminist perspectives, and I’m *currently* working on finishing my exams. Before returning to school in 2016, I served as the assistant director of the writing center at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, and, prior to that, as the assistant director of the writing center at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN, my hometown. Since coming to MSU, I’ve worked as a writing center consultant–where I’ve had the pleasure of being the workshops coordinator and the RA for the Red Cedar Writing Project–and I’ve also facilitated a graduate writing group though the center. Outside of the writing center, I’ve served as the co-president of WRAP, the WRAC graduate student organization, and as the chair of the International Writing Center Association-Graduate Organization (IWCA-GO).

Recent publications include “Big Happy Family” (with Baldwin, Brentnell, Donelson, Dixon, and Firestone, TPR vol 2, 2018), and a chapter under review for Writing-Self-Culture (McKinney and Jackson, tbd). I’ve previously published several chapters in COMPbiblio: Leaders and Influences in Composition Theory and Practice (with Allison Smith and Karen Wright, Fountainhead Press, 2007) and edited Surviving Freshman Composition (vol. 4 with Smith and Smith and vol. 5 with Watkins). This year, my co-assistant director, Elise Dixon, and I are working on co-editing a special issue on TPR: The Peer Review focusing on (re)defining welcome in the writing center, which is slated for publication in 2019.

I have a dog, Mandy, who I’m very attached to and who mirrors my own personality in very specific and troubling ways. When I’m not bounding around MSU’s writing center or WRAC dept., I can usually be found walking or cuddling her or consuming the endless Netflix shows I’m addicted to. Sometimes I will also embroider when I’m feeling fancy.

You can email Rachel at robi1078@msu.edu


Elise Dixon

Hi! I’m Elise— one of the interim assistant directors for the 2018-2019 year. I’m a fourth-year PhD candidate in Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures (WRAC). My research focuses on queer/feminist rhetorics and making/multimodality; I’m currently working on my dissertation on the collaborative making processes of the Lesbian Avengers. Before I began my studies at MSU, I earned my Masters’ in Rhetoric and Composition from Ohio University, where I taught composition and women’s and gender studies. I’ve worked in four different writing centers as a consultant, coordinator, and now as an assistant director. Here at MSU, I have worked as both a satellite and the outreach coordinator, where I’ve gotten the opportunity to work on multiple community composing projects, including our current project, Connecting Communities, Creating Stories. Outside of the writing center, I’ve served as the president of WRAP (WRAC’s graduate student organization), as the secretary of the CCCCs queer caucus, and as historian for International Writing Center Association-Graduate Organization (IWCA-GO). In addition, I’ve been an InsideTeaching HUB fellow and Cultural Heritage Informatics fellow. Recent publications include “Uncomfortably Queer: Everyday Moments in the Writing Center” (TPR, vol 1, 2017), “Strategy-Centered or Student-Centered?: A Meditation on Conflation” (Writing Lab Newsletter, vol 42), “Big Happy Family” (with Baldwin, Brentnell, Donelson, Firestone, and Robinson TPR vol 2, 2018), and a few book chapters and articles currently slated for publication in 2019. This year, my co-assistant director, Rachel Robinson, and I are working on co-editing a special issue on TPR: The Peer Review focusing on (re)defining welcome in the writing center, which is slated for publication in 2019. When I’m not in the writing center, I’m walking my giant fluffy dog, Bear, and searching for four-leaf clovers.

You can email Elise at dixonel@msu.edu