Taken from the press release sent out on Dec. 9, 2020, by the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing

Faculty Portraits, Dr. Lauren Fitzgerald

Dr. Lauren Fitzgerald

The National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing’s Ron Maxwell Award Committee is pleased to announce that Dr. Lauren Fitzgerald, professor of English and director of the Wilf Campus Writing Center at Yeshiva University, and Dr. Melissa Ianetta, professor and director of the Writing and Communication Program at Georgia Institute of Technology, have been selected as the 2020 recipients of the Ron Maxwell Leadership Award.

The NCPTW Ron Maxwell Leadership Award is presented annually to a professional in the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing (NCPTW) organization who has contributed with distinction to undergraduate student development through promoting collaborative learning among peer tutors in writing. The award recognizes an individual for dedication to and leadership in collaborative learning within writing centers, for aiding students in taking on more responsibility together for their learning and thus for promoting the work of peer tutors. Its presentation also denotes extraordinary service to the evolution of the NCPTW.

This year, the Maxwell Award Committee was asked to consider Dr. Ianetta and Dr. Fitzgerald for the award jointly, as a collaborative partnership, and they received the nomination packet with delight.

In her letter of nomination, Dr. Andrea Rosso Efthymiou, assistant professor and writing center director at Hofstra University, highlighted the many ways Dr. Fitzgerald and Dr. Ianetta have supported and mentored peer tutors in writing over the years. Not only did they collaborate with undergraduates who served as assistant editors of Writing Center Journal during their tenure as the journal’s editorial team, but later they also hired undergraduate tutor researchers to work on their co-authored book The Oxford Guide for Writing Tutors, which is quickly becoming a widely-adopted text for tutor education courses internationally.

Dr. Efthymiou further detailed their more visible work in advocating for peer tutors as undergraduate researchers, particularly in their keynote address at the 2017 NCPTW conference, titled “Tutors Front and Center: How the Writing Center Works.” Dr. Efthymiou identified their examination of “the impact of tutor research on students’ understanding of their own intellectual labor” as one of the more compelling reasons for her nomination for this prestigious award.

The NCPTW Ron Maxwell Leadership Award Committee also had great things to say about Dr. Ianetta and Dr. Fitzgerald. One committee member noted “the myriad ways these two have worked separately and together to empower peer tutors, to mentor graduate students, to ground writing center work in sound theoretical underpinnings and to validate the work of peer tutors as legitimate academic professional activity.” Another commented that “their leadership within NCPTW and their fieldwide mentorship of peer mentors as researchers is clearly significant and far-reaching.” The Committee is delighted to welcome them onto the Committee of past Maxwell Award winners.

“I’m thrilled and humbled to receive an award that stands for what I most value in the writing center field: the focus on undergraduates and their expertise and agency,” said Dr. Fitzgerald. “I’m also very grateful to the generations of Yeshiva University peer tutors I’ve worked with since 1997, including those who’ve made the transition to online tutoring during the pandemic with such grace and sophistication.”

She noted, with great satisfaction, that Dr. Sipai Klein, one of the first undergraduate tutors she hired and now an Associate Professor and director of his own writing center at Clayton State University, wrote a letter of support for her candidacy. “This demonstrates just one of the many ways that this award would not have been possible without YU writing tutors.”

Find more information about the NCPTW and the Ron Maxwell Leadership Award.

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