April 13, 2021
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  • 2:35 pm Will Time Run Out Before Funds for PEGS? [UPDATED]
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Photo by Nova Blanco-Rico

UPDATED: Today, Feb. 4, 1:14 p.m. PEGS announced its hours of operation for the Spring Semester. See bottom paragraph.

By Dayzsha Lino, Co-News Editor

 A virtual town hall formally introducing the writing center that opened last semester on the third floor of the north library is scheduled for Friday, but the status of the writing center located a floor above it, a fixture on campus the past 10 years, is far from certain.

It’s the latest development in what many thought was PEGS’ final chapter at CSUDH. PEGS was established in 2010 by a five-year grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to provide funding for graduate programs at educational institutions that served large numbers of Hispanic and low-income students. In 2014, it was awarded another five-year grant, the Graduate Writing for Excellence. Combined, the grants totaled $6 million.

For 10 years, PEGS offered one-on-one tutoring and weekly workshops for graduate students, as well as undergraduates referred by faculty, and also assisted students needing thesis and capstone help. Last semester,it moved onto the fourth floor of the north library, as part of the creation of the Student Success Hub.

But also last semester, PEGS learned that its application for a third federal grant had been denied.

In an email sent to the Bulletin Sunday night,  Greg Proctor, a grant writer for PEGS, said PEGS then appealed to the university for funding. Two requests were denied, Proctor said, and in its third, Pegs asked to  “just be given enough to survive for six months until another grant could be secured, “Proctor said. “Denied again, all because there were ‘no funds’ available.”

Meanwhile, a new writing center, the CSUDH Writing Center, had opened one floor beneath PEGS. There was no official announcement of its opening, and as late as April of last year, there was no mention of it in relation to the Student Success Hub

Planned occupants for Student Success Hub, as of April 2019

PEGS’ closure was first announced Nov. 25 by Proctor in a response to a Nov. 20 email sent by the library’ associate dean Marwin Britto seeking to compile an email list of emergency contacts for organizations located in the Student Success Hub.

Proctor’s reply asked that he and PEGS be removed from the list because, according to his Nov. 25 email, “we have been informed we will not be funded next semester and are not in the University’s plans moving forward.”

There was no response to that email and no official notification of PEGS’ closing to the general campus, Proctor said. Last week, Proctor sent another email, this one to the DH email list, which includes all faculty and administrators, because  “it seemed clear it was the only way campus would find out,” about PEGS closure, he said in his Sunday email to the Bulletin.  “We felt it as our responsibility to tell our students and faculty, so they had some time to figure out what to do this semester without our presence.”

In that  DH email, sent Monday, Jan. 20 at 7:34 a.m.,  Proctor wrote:

“It is with great regret I must share with you that PEGS will no longer be a service provided at CSUDH. Last month we were informed by the President and Vice Provost that CSUDH would NOT be funding our program and our final days of service are now upon us.”

That email received responses.

“This is devastating news!” Kelli Beard, a professor in the College of Education’s teacher education division, wrote at 8:27 a.m. “ Our students will be at a serious loss as a result of closing PEGS. Where will our students writing a thesis turn for help now?”

Caron Mellbom, a graduate thesis advisor in special education, wrote at 9:05 a.m. that with so many CSUDH students being first generation and the first in their family to pursue an advanced degree, eliminating PEGS “seems to strike at the core of our mission. I too am disturbed by this and the apparent lack of transparency in the decision making.”

Sarah Lacey,  an assistant professor in the anthropology department, wrote that “this is a huge loss to our community…was this discussed at Faculty Senate?…I don’t get the impression that faculty were aware in a sufficient way to weigh in or mobilize in support of this program. I am also concerned for the 14 people losing employment. I hope there is a better solution!

At 10:09 a.m., after nine replies from different faculty members all expressing some degree of surprise or confusion about PEGS’ closing, Vice Provost Ken O’Donnell responded, announcing Friday’s virtual town hall and inviting anyone interested to join, “particularly faculty who had come to count on the support PEGS provided to their students.”

He also said that the new Writing Center was conceived “as part of a cross-divisional focus on student academic success, and designed by faculty from multiple colleges and departments, especially from English.”

While saying that the new center would “never completely replace the distinctive, personal contributions of PEGS leaders Leena Furtado and Greg Proctor,” O’Donnell wrote, “we are committed to continuing in that spirit, and providing students with the fullest possible support for their writing.”

Perhaps most important,” O’Donnell continued. “Writing Center funding is built into the university budget, and not dependent on temporary external grants.”

To access Friday’s town hall,visit  https://csudh.zoom.us/j/6489247644

At 5:38 p.m. Mara Lee, an assistant professor in the English Department and the writers’ center’s graduate support coordinator this semester,  replied on the thread.  She said that she and the rest of the Writing Center understood “the concerns many you have raised about the closure of PEGS. While we know we cannot replace every support service provided by PEGS, we can certainly assist…your students individually [and in leading] small group workshops specifically tailored to the needs of graduate student writers, and provide resources students can use to work through writing challenges they face on their own.”

She also encouraged any faculty members concerned about PEGS closing to join in the town hall.

“Please mark your calendars for this event. We look forward to sharing with your additional information on the services we provide and our plans for working with graduate students this semester.”

Sunday, six days later, Proctor and PEG’ 12 employees seem resigned to the closure. He said at least 12 people would be out of work and the new writing center had no plans to hire anybody from the program.

Lando Tosaya, one of those employees, said many PEGS employees were having a hard time finding a job anywhere on campus, despite having the credentials and exceeding qualifications.

“I’m concerned because all of us are pretty much out of jobs, which means how are we going to pay bills and rent,” Tosaya said Sunday..  

With Tuesday’s  discovery of remaining grant money, Proctor said he hopes that PEGS can last long enough to apply for a new grant in March. But whether it will be able to continue to operate until then is unknown. Though two sources have told the Bulletin that the Writing Center was supposed to move into PEGs’ location on the fourth floor, Vice Provost O’Donnell said yesterday that it will continue to occupy its current space on the third floor of the library.

As for PEGS’ future?

            “As for the timing, my understanding is that PEGS will be winding down this spring, until it has spent the last of its grant money,” O’Donnell said. “I’ve heard different accounts of when the last day will be, and you may have more information than I do.”

As of this morning, the library’s “ask us” page, last updated Jan. 24,  says:

“As of January 2020 PEGS is no longer operating at CSUDH. For writing help try the Writing Center! For tutoring or other academic help check out the Toro Learning and Testing Center (TLTC). For help creating or revising resumes and cover letters visit the Career Center.”

To access Friday’s town hall,visit  https://csudh.zoom.us/j/6489247644

UPDATED, Feb. 4, 1:17 p.m., email from Pegs Coordinator Dr. Leena Furtado:

Hello All,
I am happy to announce that PEGS academic and research writing program services are available. Students and faculty please come by to your familiar library area (Lib 4100) for you academic needs and especially the soon approaching Student Research Day support services.   
Students please reserve your time with your usual sign-up at the GWIE website (www.pegscsudh.com) . Faculty, please call the PEGS center for your in-class student academic services- Ext 2700.  
Your contact staff are:  Ms. Lando Tosaya (ltosaya@csudh.edu)
And Ms. Cassandra Fritzel cfritzel1@csudh.edu

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