Pomona College’s Writing Center has received a $250,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to expand its support to include, in addition to written communication, oral and visual communication: speaking, and working in images. The two-year grant will fund programs where students can engage rigorously with the written, oral and visual literacies that will help them become effective communicators and leaders. 

The reimagined center will become Pomona College’s Center for Speaking, Writing and the Image. The Center will continue to teach, support and engage thoughtfully with writing through peer mentoring and workshops but will also develop new methods for supporting the development of oral and visual competencies in all Pomona students. The center will also be a leader among liberal arts colleges in supporting written, oral and visual literacies in a single site and is one of the first to name visual communication as one of their literacies.

“Through the new center, we propose a transformative reconceptualization of how we understand literacy and how we teach key forms of communication in the 21st century,” says Kara Wittman, director of college writing and assistant professor of English. “Flexibility, thoughtfulness and deliberateness in all these areas will ensure that all Pomona graduates leave the College able to write and speak effectively, advocate compellingly and have an impact on the real-world issues they care about.”

The center will offer the consultation and technological resources for students to work on oral, written and visual projects of all kinds and will equip students with the communication tools they need to convert their critical thinking and writing abilities into skills relevant to succeeding beyond their time at Pomona.

“Also unique will be the center’s critical pedagogy, engaging students to consider the interdependence of the literacies and the relationship between a commitment to language diversity and inclusive, effective communication,” says Wittman. “Because Pomona has built the commitment to speaking, writing and visual communication into the curriculum, we have a robust foundation and the student/faculty demand for this center.”

This project will bring joint opportunities with the College’s Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity (the Hive), Humanities Studio, Museum of Art, Theatre Department, Claremont Colleges Library, the Quantitative Skills Center and Pomona Academic Leaders Collective. These internal collaborations will allow the center to leverage faculty research and expertise, sponsor student research and encourage multidisciplinary critical inquiry about the literacies.

The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations have made transformative grants to Pomona College for two previous projects: in 2006, for the Foreign Language Resource Center, and again in 2012, for the launch of the College’s Quantitative Skills Center. Since inception, the foundations have given more than 3,800 grants totaling more than $300 million to colleges and universities, hospitals, medical schools and divinity schools.