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In the Moment: Celebrating the Hume Center and the Oral Communication Program

red and white balloon arch outside building

On Thursday, May 12th, Stanford’s Hume Center for Writing and Oral Communication hosted a celebration of two momentous milestones: the 20th anniversary of the Hume Center (formerly the Stanford Writing Center), and the 25th anniversary of the Oral Communication Program (OCP) (read the Stanford Report’s recent coverage of the history of the Oral Communication Program, and of the Hume Center).

Professor Emerita Andrea Lunsford, founder of the Writing Center, described starting the center as “the most fun thing I did in my entire career”—and that sense of joy was on display throughout the afternoon’s program. Current and former students, faculty, and staff came together in person at Hume and from across the country via Zoom to share laughter, tears, appreciation, and, finally, cake. When the current Hume Center Director, Dr. Zandra L. Jordan, described the Center as “a place for transformative collaboration” she spoke to a value highlighted by nearly every speaker. Current and former tutors spoke about collaborating with students and administrators; and faculty and staff Hume testified to the value of their collaborations with one another. The respect and appreciation those involved with both of these two programs have for one another was palpable.

Andrea Lunsford addressing the Hume Celebration

As befits a celebration of both writing and speaking, there was an emphasis on multi-modality throughout the event: the speeches were both live and recorded; the programs’ pasts were presented in still photos, videos, and oral histories; and alongside more formal commendations and remembrances there were performances from two members of the Spoken Word Collective—Amelia Marie Crowther and Dana Song-Jy Chiueh.

In his closing remarks, PWR’s faculty director, Professor Adam Banks, highlighted the Hume Center’s role as one of the few places on campus where both students and teachers can focus not  on achievement but on “becoming,” and becoming was the afternoon’s watchword. Oral Communication Program founder and director Dr. Doree Allen related how OCP came into being; past tutors and directors showed pictures of the empty basements becoming the Writing and Speaking Center; the audience heard about how the Stanford Writing Center became the Hume Center and how the Lunsford award for public speaking developed; former Oral Communication Tutors and Peer Writing Tutors told stories of how the Hume Center had helped them come into their professional selves; and many of the day’s speakers recounted about how the people and the work of the OCP and Hume had changed their lives.

Although the Center for Teaching and Learning Director Emerita Michele Marincovich poked subtle fun at the academic propensity for speech-giving, each and every one of the nineteen speakers at the party was warmly welcomed and attentively received. This celebration of multi-modality, collaboration, and becoming was a fitting celebration of how much OCP and Hume mean to the Stanford community.

Cake Celebrating Hume and OCP

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