Writing Center Director Hopes to Inspire Students

English, Theatre, and World Languages
Dr. Elise Dixon Photograph
Dr. Elise Dixon

Dr. Elise Dixon was inspired to come UNC Pembroke by the positive comments she heard from faculty about their relationships with students here; she notes that her purpose at UNCP is to serve students more than anything else. She joined UNCP’s faculty in the fall semester of 2020 as Assistant Professor and Director of the UNCP Writing Center.

A native of Snohomish, WA, Dixon completed her undergraduate studies at Whitworth University, her M.A. at Ohio University, and her Ph.D. at Michigan State University. She indicates that her field of study chose her rather than the other way around.

“I actually had no idea what rhetoric and composition was until the day before my undergraduate graduation. The chair of the English department pulled me aside and told me he heard I was an excellent writing center tutor, and that I could go to graduate school in rhetoric and composition to become a writing center director. After two years as an office manager at a wellness clinic, I began privately tutoring in writing on the side and remembered how much I loved it. I applied for graduate school, and the rest is history,” said Dixon.

Dixon did explore other options in the field noting, “I considered getting an MFA in poetry or creative nonfiction. I also loved my postmodern literature class,”

But Dixon loves where rhetoric and composition is moving, which is “further and further toward an understanding of just how deeply our culture and the ways we make meaning are intimately connected and indelibly tied.”

She describes Writing Centers as “fruitful spaces of social justice and activism” that empower “students to see themselves as agents of change . . . in charge of their education.”

Outside of the writing center and classroom, Dixon is incredibly busy: She has a two-year-old son and a spouse on deployment, but she has just finished designing a website for her mother, who is an artist. While she admits she has little time to read for pleasure with her hectic schedule, Dixon includes Toni Morrison, Jeffrey Eugenides, Margaret Atwood, John Steinbeck, and Ken Kersey as some of her favorite authors.

Dixon hopes that she can develop productive relationships with her students, like the ones she experienced during her undergraduate education. “I had multiple professors who guided me,” she says, “but those who stuck with me most encouraged me to think and create way outside of my comfort zone.”