The Noel Studio for Academic Creativity is a multiliteracy center offering integrated support services for research, writing, and communication (defined broadly to include digital and multimodal communication), strategically located in the center of Eastern Kentucky University’s (EKU) John Grant Crabbe (Main) Library. The Noel Studio debuted its renovated, technology-sophisticated spaces and integrated services in the Crabbe Library in fall 2010; however, the initial concept was born in 2003 and arose from an academic administrative internship between the former Dean of Libraries and the former Writing Center Director. While originally centered around the possibility of establishing a writing center branch in–or relocating the writing center to–the Main Library, discussions between the Dean and Director soon expanded to acknowledge campus-wide shifts in pedagogy, classroom practice, and assignment design that encouraged more experiential and cooperative assignments, with fewer papers and more digital and/or multimodal assignments intentionally focused on critical and creative outcomes. Additionally, as part of the re-accreditation process, EKU initiated a 2007 Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) to improve student learning through a coordinated institutional effort to graduate informed, critical and creative thinkers who communicate effectively, which was both response and catalyst to these campus-wide shifts.
The Dean and Director soon recognized that meeting the new and somewhat unfamiliar needs arising from such shifts and transitions would extend well beyond simply relocating or combining Writing Center and Libraries services. Further supported by Writing Center and Libraries employees noting student requests for guidance, technology, and spaces that were not available as services anywhere on EKU’s campus, they invited additional campus partners and stakeholders to join an interdisciplinary advisory board whose charge would be to envision, develop, and implement a space and service model to meet these needs. The Noel Studio Advisory Board, still active today, initially included representatives from the Libraries, the Writing Center, University Programs, Information Technology, and the departments of English & Theatre and Communication, among others. Having the Dean of University Programs join the Advisory Board to represent this interdisciplinary college, which housed the aforementioned QEP, served to highlight and strengthen the common missions of the Noel Studio and the QEP. Aligning the burgeoning mission of the Noel Studio with the goals of programs such as the QEP, University Programs, and the Student Government Association (SGA) through the advisory board proved to be an effective method of garnering support from campus partners. Ultimately, the Noel Studio became an official QEP initiative, and, with support from generous donors, matching state funds, and QEP and departmental support (namely from the Libraries, English & Theatre, and Communication), EKU began construction on the Noel Studio in the fall of 2009 and opened the newly-renovated 10,000 square foot space in fall 2010, which absorbed the existing Writing Center and added services, resources, and technologies designed to support multimodal, digital communication. You can revisit our renovation days by visiting the Noel Studio Construction blog.
The Noel Studio opened to serve the EKU community on September 20, 2010. Staffed by highly trained student employees, the Noel Studio began offering consultations, workshops, and interactive sessions on subjects ranging from integrating creativity into the classroom to writing for the web and conducting academic research. In 2013, the Noel Studio expanded its programs to include a Minor in ACT (Applied Creative Thinking), the Teaching & Learning Center (TLC), and a collaborative relationship with the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors (URCE). In fall 2018, the TLC officially transitioned into its current space on the third floor of the Main Library and became the Faculty Center for Teaching & Learning (FCT&L).
From 2019 through 2021, the Noel Studio and FC&TL, along with the new Data Initiatives program, became a reporting line to the Executive Director. In 2021, they transitioned to the Office of the Assistant Provost alongside EKU Summer, EKU Winter, and the Center for Excellence in STEM.