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A student flips through a notebook as he is tutored by another student in the Writing and Learning Center.

“With the move [to the Undergraduate Library], students will find services that support their academic success in one friendly, convenient spot,” says Director Kim Abels. (courtesy of the Writing and Learning Center)

The center provides personalized academic coaching and resources to help students from all backgrounds and abilities succeed in and out of the classroom.

Private support for the Writing and Learning Center during the Campaign for Carolina has the potential to impact every student. Donors during the campaign have laid the groundwork to relocate the center to the heart of the UNC-Chapel Hill campus in the Robert B. House Undergraduate Library.

Banners saying "Writing Center" and "Learning Center" hang outside the current building housing the center.The Writing and Learning Center provides personalized academic coaching and resources to help students succeed. Programs include both writing and academic coaching, peer tutoring, study groups, test prep, online resources, English language support and more. On its oft-visited website, the center offers handouts on common writing and studying challenges, such as thesis statements, the use of passive voice and how to deal with procrastination.

The center, part of the Center for Student Success in the Office of Undergraduate Education, is currently located near several residence halls on the southern end of the UNC campus. The College is committed to moving the center to the Undergraduate Library, with additional philanthropic support as the cornerstone of this effort.

Kim Abels, Writing and Learning Center director, said the move to a more central location on campus enhances the ability of the Center for Student Success to reach more students, and that the collaboration with University Libraries adds value. (In addition to housing the Writing and Learning Center, the Center for Student Success offers other student support services, such as Summer Bridge, Carolina Firsts and peer mentoring services.)

Writing and Learning Center programs include writing and academic coaching, peer tutoring, study groups, test prep, online resources, English language support and more. (courtesy of the Writing and Learning Center)

“The Writing and Learning Center provides personalized academic support that matches the rigor of UNC, and we seek to meet students where they are,” Abels said. “We are grateful to the library for this partnership, which will give students access to services in one convenient spot.”

Mike and Laura Grace gave the first gift to set up a relocation fund in 2018. The Graces became acquainted with the center during their son Patrick’s first-year orientation. Patrick graduated in 2019, but Laura Grace continues to serve on the center’s advisory board.

“A large population of UNC students, no matter their major or level of academic performance, uses these services,” she said in 2019. “We’re in a diverse learning and cultural environment, and there’s nothing more important than improving how we communicate, being open to others and appreciating our strengths and weaknesses.”

Jennifer and Stephen Rich also contributed to the relocation fund. Their daughter, Caroline, is a Carolina junior. Jennifer Rich, a member of the Arts and Sciences Foundation board of directors, said she is excited to imagine the impact the center could have when it moves to the library.

She said the center and its work are “near and dear to my heart” because she grew up with dyslexia. “I had a really hard time in school,” Rich said. “Resources like the Writing and Learning Center were really important to me all throughout high school. Then I went to the University of Pennsylvania, and they had a learning resource center, which was very helpful to me.”

The beauty of this Carolina resource is that it is open to all students, just like the library, she said.

“Everybody, at some point in college, needs some help with something — whether it’s writing, learning how to take a test or learning how to do something new,” she said. “I want to make sure that students who need extra help can just walk in and get that help. I think there’s nothing more valuable than that.”

Michael Stutts ’02, a donor and member of the center’s advisory board, has also supported the relocation fund and is dedicated to building awareness of the center’s comprehensive services.

“I want every student who goes to UNC to get the same enriching experience that I did,” he said. “I’m passionate about creating that boost for people who need it.”

By Claire Cusick (M.A. ’21)

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