The dream for the Noel Studio for Academic Creativity began in 2003 when a plan to relocate the Writing Center to the library was an intended outcome of an internship between the Director and the former Dean of Libraries (02-03). The Dean was interested in involving the Department of Communication to consider opening a Communication Center in the Library as well. During the fall, a group of interested faculty members from the Department of English and the Department of Communication and Librarians formed a task force and began meeting on a regular basis. The group went on several “information-seeking” road trips to look at writing centers and one writing-and-speaking center that were located in libraries. The Writing Center Director and the Writing Center Assistant Director discovered that some writing centers were beginning to use the name “Writing Studio.” This name inspired a concept of an interactive space that viewed writing center pedagogy in an innovative way. The Writing Center Director shared the Studio concept with the Dean of Libraries, who was very enthusiastic.
The concept really gained momentum in 2004 when a proposal for a “Writing Studio” was developed, complete with supporting research. The proposal was presented to the then Provost in March 2004. The Studio Task Force continued to develop the concept of an integrated facility and changed the name to the Studio for Academic Creativity to communicate the integrated philosophy of the emerging dream. The task force presented the Studio concept to President Glasser in July 2004, and she immediately supported the project. From there, the task force began working with the VP of University Development to begin to seek funding for renovation.
In 2005, the task force continued to refine the Studio for Academic Creativity concept and, with support garnered from departments, the libraries, and administration, preliminary architectural drawings were developed. A year later, the Studio became a part of the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), which is part of the SACS accreditation process.
The following year was a major time of uncertainty but also a time of forward motion. In 2007, the University appointed a new Provost, Dean of Libraries, and President. Despite the leadership changes in key areas, there was still a great deal of commitment and excitement about the project. Planets began to align with the new university leadership, the need to fulfill the University’s accreditation mandate to carry out its QEP, and the continued enthusiasm and involvement of the “right” people on the task force to push it forward.
The vision came together in 2008. Foremost, funds came through in a major way. In January 2008, EKU alumni Ron and Sherrie Lou Noel donated a little over $1 million for the construction of the Noel Studio—with the stipulation that the process begin as soon as possible. An architectural firm was hired to create the final construction drawings. The planning team met frequently to discuss architectural and programmatic issues.
In 2009, the Noel Studio for Academic Creativity was on its way. Dr. Russell Carpenter was named the Director and a promotional event was held at the end of the spring semester to generate excitement for the coming Studio. In early August, construction officially began.
In 2010, the anticipation continued to build as the EKU community anxiously awaited the opening of the Noel Studio for Academic Creativity, an academic space like no other. Construction concluded in September 2010 and services began later that month.
The Noel Studio . . . it’s an experience!