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Students build speech skills at new speech communication center

Students now have the opportunity to grow their public speaking and speech writing skills with the new communication center in the basement of the Axe Library.  

In the study room 26 is where students will be welcomed by tutors that can help with speech development, research, and how to build content.  

Dr. Shirley Drew, professor in communication, said the plans for creating such a space for the university has been a topic for ten years. Drew said the idea came to her when she was working with another university and saw they had a communication lab for their students. After some research she began to realize that universities all over the country had one.  

“I searched about ten websites and every single one had one (a communication lab),” Drew said.  

Drew had initial concerns with staffing the lab and funding its construction. She collaborated with colleagues. 

“I knew if we were going to do it, we were going to have to do it without money… So I talked to Heather Eckstein, who’s in charge of student success and when she gets something in motion and she runs with it,” Drew said. “Just amazing. She and I talked about how we would do it. She arranged all of the logistics like the record keeping, the hours…she’s done a lot of tutoring programs on campus and she told me what their best practices were”.  

When it came down to the location for the center, Drew said Randy Roberts, dean of library sciences was ready to offer a space. The next step was finding volunteers for the space. Because this is a new center for students, Drew and her graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) would cover the eight hour weekly schedule to tuition students. After this, the center was opened on Sept. 9.  

Drew said the main focus of the center is to focus on content. 

“(It’s about) anything to do with their speeches,” Drew said. “Outlining, speech topic selection, research, organizing, delivery, just about anything regarding speech. This is about content. We are most interested in teaching our students how to put together content.” 

Dre said that right now the targeted students are basic speech students. But all communication students and any student from any department that walks through the door will be helped. Drew said the center is like an extension of the writing center in a way.  

“It’s another tutoring companion,” Drew said. “We have this new Pitt State Pathways. It’s our new general education program and the three courses that are required for every student on campus is COMM-207, English Composition and Math. Those two courses already have tutoring center, math does and English does. So now all three have tutoring centers”. The center is open 8 hours a week on Mondays 11 a.m. to 12 p.m, and 1-3 p.m, Wednesdays 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1-4 p.m, and Thursdays 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1-2 p.m. 

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