Caitie Leibman

Dear Tiger Writers,

When I first walked the paths of Doane’s campus as a student, there was no Writing Center. It took a dedicated dean, a pioneering group of faculty and a common-sense, compassionate writing teacher to make it happen. Phil Weitl built the center from an abandoned classroom in Gaylord and furniture lifted from attics and basements. He turned it into a home for writers.

Phil led the center from 2009 to 2014, when he entrusted it to a plucky doctoral student. I had been on Phil’s first staff, so I knew what a privilege it was to direct this enterprise.

This year, from its newer space in the Communications Building, the Writing Center celebrated its tenth year of operation.

The students serving as writing consultants have led nearly 5,000 individualized sessions with their fellow writers across these years. They’ve helped hundreds of LAR students and provided support in academic styles from APA to MLA to CSE. They’ve wrestled with the big questions to help craft personal statements for law schools, Fulbright awards, and medical programs.

The center has worked with students from nearly every major on campus. Staffers have presented at international conferences, conducted research, and created powerful campus events to showcase student writing.

In my time here, I’ve learned as much from my students as I’ve tried to offer them. I’ve learned how to trust in a team, when to back off and let people shine, where to direct my own strengths, and why I pursued so many degrees myself.

My students and I have conquered semicolons. They’ve survived my soapbox speeches about... anything related to writing and education and the way “book vs. movie” debates miss the point. 

We’ve followed tangents to Google just to figure out “what even is a Cheeto?”

We’ve talked about our families, our fears and our dreams from the comfort of our beautiful “fishbowl” space. I’ve cried and laughed.

Doane has been the backdrop for all—all—the milestones of my adult life. This is a bittersweet moment, but I’m closing this chapter at Doane. I’m off on a new adventure in the private sector, where I’ll get to stretch my own communications skills at a financial services firm. (Hey, a move like this is a Doane liberal arts education at its finest, right?)

I wanted you to hear it from me one more time: directing the Writing Center has been my job and my joy! Thank you, Tigers—for everything.


Caitie Leibman