While not quite the salons of Paris where literary greats hobnob, West Virginia Universitys Center for Writing Excellence will certainly offer its own brand of intellectual excitement when it officially opens its doors on Friday, Jan. 25.

After an initial year of development, the center is now ready to announce several new programs, partnerships and events, said Director Laura Brady.

“We invite the WVU and local communities to a 4-5:30 p.m. open house in 236 Stansbury Hall this Friday to learn more about these new programs and offerings,”she said.

Two new programsthe first of their kind in the stateshowcase the centers new offerings: a masters degree in fine arts and an undergraduate concentration in professional writing.

“The MFA emphasizes the art of creative writing while the professional writing program focuses on teaching students how to become staff writers, capable of producing and editing technical, governmental and other documents and reports, among other professional writing tasks,”Brady said.

Participants at the open house also can learn about new distance education writing classes, upcoming readings by nationally recognized writers such as Pulitzer Prize winning poet Stephen Dunn, and new and continuing partnerships with area schools and community members.

The centers faculty and staff also will be at the open house to meet participants, to talk about plans for new programs and to answer questions.

The idea for the center came out of a 1999 initiative from the WVU Provosts Office challenging the English Department to review its curriculum and mission and to propose innovations. In Fall 2000, the department established the center in part to respond to this challenge and to coordinate existing writing activities and develop new resources for the University, community and the state.