Writing Center welcomes new assistant director
Although he can quote “The Princess Bride” from start to finish and plays a mean hand of poker, what Patrick Johnson really wants to do is teach Grand Valley State University students how to become better writers.
Starting this July, Johnson will take over as the new assistant director of the Frederick Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors. At his new job, Johnson will be responsible for training the center’s more than 55 tutors and administrating the tutors’ schedules. He will also help professors implement the Writing Center’s services in their classes.
Johnson received his undergraduate degrees in advertising and English and his master’s degree in rhetoric and composition, all from Washington State University. While studying at Washington State, Johnson began working at the university writing center, his “sanctuary,” and he continued working at the center after the university hired him as an English professor. After about two years, Johnson became a writing center administrator.
“I feel as though I’ve done what I can do (at Washington State), and Grand Valley is a very exciting school and has a great writing center,” Johnson said. “So when the job listing and the opportunity came about, I thought that it would be foolish of me not to apply for it. It was right up my alley and for a school that I respected, and so I was really flattered that they seemed to want me as much as I wanted to work for them.”
Johnson, who finishes his Washington State position in May, will begin working at the GVSU Writing Center on July 1.
“Pat’s a great fit for this position because he has so much experience as a writing teacher and in writing centers,” said Writing Center Director Ellen Schendel. “…Pat’s experiences in writing center administration are broad. He’s trained and supervised tutors, developed writing center programming, participated in assessment of the center’s services, and coordinated online tutoring. He’ll bring new ideas to our busy center as well as years of experience in working with students, tutors, and faculty to ensure our services meet the needs of writers across the university.”
While Johnson said he initially looks forward to simply learning the hows and whys of GVSU’s system before introducing any changes, he said eventually he would like to explore the possibility of further developing the Writing Center’s online tutoring program.
In addition to preparing for his new position, Johnson, who grew up in Maryland and Connecticut, is also prepping for the harsh Midwestern winters.
“In Washington, we do pretty well for snow, but people who live in, like, Iowa tell me I haven’t seen anything yet,” he said. “So I’ll be getting used to the weather in some ways.”
In his spare time, Johnson enjoys writing, reading, video games and blogging about movies. His favorite films include “Fight Club,” “A Clockwork Orange” and “The Princess Bride.”
Johnson is also an accomplished poker player and won a trip to play at a World Poker event in Aruba a few years ago. He also runs an online comic strip with a longtime friend at Washington State, though he joked that his artistic abilities are not as up to snuff as his poker skills.
“I used to be an artist and do a lot of drawing, but that kind of went by the wayside after I saw how much better other people are than I am,” Johnson said.
Although he may not be the next Picasso, his future Writing Center co-workers are confident Johnson will make his mark on GVSU.
“We’d like to continue developing innovative programming, and hiring Pat will ensure we can do that,” Schendel said.