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Professor Al DeCiccio Represents Mary G. Walsh Writing Center at Two Back-to-Back Conferences

Story by Tian Quinn; edited by Jessica Cook

In late October, English Professor Al DeCiccio represented Salem State’s Mary G. Walsh Writing Center on an international platform with the presentation of his paper, “Season of the Witch: Stories of Northeast Writing Centers,” at the International Writing Centers Association (IWCA) conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. While at the IWCA, DeCiccio also had the honor of co-presenting the Muriel Harris Outstanding Service Award to Michael Pemberton of Georgia Southern University—an award that DeCiccio himself received in 2006. 

“Season of the Witch” draws from DeCiccio’s in-progress memoir, From Mill City to Witch City, which reflects on DeCiccio’s upbringing in Lawrence, MA, and the connections he later made in the community of Salem during the beginnings of his journey in academia. The paper, which is available to read in Salem State’s Digital Repository, explores the history of several university writing centers in the Northeast while noting specific contributions to these institutions over time.  

To research the development of writing centers in the Northeast, Professor DeCiccio collaborated with colleagues, who provided writing center artifacts to review, and with digital initiatives librarian Justin Snow, who helped digitize manuscripts from 1980s and 1990s writing center conference programs and proceedings. In examining stories of successes and struggles from area writing centers, DeCiccio underscores how writing-centered, social justice-oriented programming can help support communities through contentious matters.  

The day after presenting his paper at the IWCA, DeCiccio presented another paper, “Learning about Tutoring Multilingual Writers from Multilingual Tutors,” asynchronously at the National Conference for Peer Tutoring in Writing (NCPTW) in Omaha, NE. In describing the whirlwind weekend, DeCiccio emphasizes how rewarding it was to represent Salem State at both the IWCA and NCPTW, where he could highlight the programming of the Writing Center in front of a wider audience and reaffirm its importance to the university and the community of Salem.  

The Mary G. Walsh Writing Center provides services to the entire Salem State community. It is staffed entirely by undergraduate and graduate student writing tutors, which creates community support from within. As the Writing Center coordinator, Professor DeCiccio plans to continue creating opportunities to showcase the outstanding work and innovations of the Mary G. Walsh Writing Center. To do so, DeCiccio plans to author an article that expands on his IWCA presentation, as well as a book chapter that details the balance between managing and leading as coordinator of a writing center. DeCiccio is also looking forward to attending the Northeast Writing Centers Association (NEWCA) with SSU writing tutors conference in the spring.  

At the NEWCA, Professor DeCiccio hopes to reflect on the Writing Center’s collaborative project between Salem State and Salem High School. Alexandra Kirby, a former SSU graduate writing tutor and current Salem High English teacher, has successfully established a writing center at the high school and works with DeCiccio and the Writing Center’s assistant coordinator, Bill Coyle, to train Salem High students to become writing tutors at both high school and college levels. The three colleagues are working on an article for The Journal of Peer Tutoring in Secondary Schools that details their work on this collaborative, community-enriching program. Building these relationships between Salem State and local secondary schools, DeCiccio says, may lead new students to the SSU community, along with new tutors and, of course, strong writers. 

Congratulations on your conference presentations, Professor DeCiccio, and thank you for supporting Salem State writers!  


Do you want to share your research and creative activities with the SSU community? Contact the CRCA at and tell us what you’ve been up to! 

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