Dr. Jenny Bruce and Dr. Lauren Bell spoke to CRLA members during a campus tour.
Professor Gayla Mills, right, and Heang Sok '10 spoke with a CRLA member.
Hosting the conference "gave us the opportunity to focus national attention on the
college," said Bruce.
Randolph-Macon College recently hosted the annual conference of the College Reading
and Learning Association (CRLA), a professional organization of educators who are
involved with learning assistance. The national conference attracts hundreds of
CRLA members to a central location for presentations, forums, keynotes, and other
events. This year, the city of Richmond and Randolph-Macon College were chosen in
a competitive process to host the conference, which took place at the Marriott Hotel
in Richmond, Virginia.
R-MC Professors Jack Trammell, Ph.D., and Jenny Bruce, Ph.D., served as conference
site chairs, working for the incoming president from Texas A & M, Dr. Karon
Mathews. Trammell is the director of R-MC’s disability support services and an assistant
professor, and Bruce is the director of instruction for the Higgins Academic Center
(HAC) and an associate professor.
Keynote speakers included R-MC President Robert R. Lindgren, Dr. Constance Staley
from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and Dr. Daniel LaVista, executive
director of the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia. R-MC professor Gayla
Mills and several of her students were also among the presenters. In addition, the
R-MC choir, under the direction of Professor Chris Ryder, shared a stirring performance
on the opening night of the conference.
The mission of the CRLA is to help all students learn more effectively and thus
improve retention and graduation rates. Attendees included college English and math
professors, center administrators, student mentors and tutors, and researchers.
Bruce and Trammell have been involved professionally in the organization for 10
“The CRLA is the professional organization of learning center professionals that
certifies R-MC’s peer tutoring and mentoring programs,” said Bruce. “We currently
have a staff of 67 R-MC students. International certification through CRLA ensures
that our staff has been trained according to high standards. This lends credibility
to our program and offers the tutors and mentors a unique opportunity to gain experience
that will serve them well whether they go on to graduate school or into the work
As part of the conference, CRLA members toured the R-MC campus, met faculty and
students, and were officially greeted by R-MC Provost William Franz, Ph.D., and
Associate Dean Lauren Bell, Ph.D. Biology Professor Jim Foster, Ph.D., represented
the Higgins Fellows, and all five Higgins Academic Center directors participated
in the tour.
Hosting the conference “gave us the opportunity to focus national attention on the
college,” said Bruce. “Professionals from all over the United States, Canada and
as far away as South Africa heard about R-MC from the speakers, presentations and
“As site chairs, Jenny and I helped coordinate the master schedule, which included
hundreds of sessions and events, arranged tours of the college and the area, and
acted as liaisons with local officials including the visitor’s board,” said Trammell.
“In working with Karon, we essentially were in charge of everything from identifying
speakers to making sure there was coffee in the right places. It was a wonderful
experience, and the feedback about R-MC was fantastic. Since most of CRLA’s members
hail from the west coast and the Midwest, this was truly a unique opportunity to
showcase who we are and what we do at the college.”