Our History

The Speaking Center began in the 2006 spring semester under the leadership of seasoned communication center professional, Susan Mallon Ross.  Though the first years of operation were situated inside a small, out-of-the-way closet within Cook Library, the mandate to help university members advance their presentation skills began aggressively.  Dr. Ross' foundational work will be forever remembered as she is now the namesake for the Speaking Center’s yearly consultant of the year award.

In 2007, Dr. Wendy Atkins-Sayre accepted the charge to lead the Center through a university commitment (i.e., the Quality Enhancement Plan) to improve students’ written and oral communication skills.  Under this campus-wide initiative, the Center received the support and funds required to design the wonderful space you see today!  The 2009 spring semester marked the grand opening of the new space, making available a large learning workspace, three research computers, four private and group practice rooms, and a large workshop room (capacity: 30 people).

Today, the Center employs many peer graduate and undergraduate consultants who collectively assist over a thousand students each semester in one-on-one and workshop settings.  Many of these same students present research and center ideas at both regional and national conferences.  Some of this work was recently published in the first edited volume dedicated to the advancement of the university communication center, which our director, Dr. Atkins-Sayre, co-edited.


The USM Speaking Center entrance