/Communications Center

Communications Center

Communications Center

2019-11-14T10:48:48-06:00 May 7, 2018|

A gem to help business students to improve their skills

The Communications Center at the Ivy College of Business started in 2005 with a small grant from Sue Ravenscroft, the Roger P. Murphy Professor of Accounting, to help faculty with their own communication skills and to develop assignments that would foster strong writing and speaking skills for business students.

By 2008, Communications Center Director Abhi Rao and college leaders committed to helping students as well. Since then, a dedicated space was created on the second floor of the Gerdin Business Building. Soon after, the center began to flourish.

That first year, Rao worked with approximately 100 students and a handful of business faculty. With his first students, he worked one-on-one tutoring them. Students from other business disciplines also began to seek feedback. The core principles of the Communications Center have been guided by ISU Comm, an initiative from Iowa State’s English department to prioritize communication skills for all Iowa State University students in all academic disciplines.

One-on-one tutoring sessions allow students the opportunity to refine their papers, projects, and presentations through personalized feedback.

Much has changed since the center opened.

During the 2016–2017 academic year, the Communications Center held 3,000 one-on-one conferences with students and faculty. They discussed building communications-based assignments in the classroom, writing business memos, and creating effective professional presentations.

Rao is currently joined in the Communications Center by Assistant Director Jamie Sass; Lea Johannsen, English as a Second Language coordinator; and two graduate writing consultants from the Ivy College of Business.

The Communications Center is a free service to all business students throughout their years at Iowa State. Students can make appointments by contacting:
Director Abhi Rao arao@iastate.edu or Assistant Director Jamie Sass jdsass@iastate.edu.

Abhijit Rao
Director of Communications Center

Jamie Sass
Assistant Director of Communications Center

Lea Johannsen
ELL Resource Coordinator


Her personal experience helps Jamie Sass relate to students

My schedule today in the Ivy College of Business Communications Center includes a tutoring consultation with a young woman who needs help with an assignment for her business writing course.

The last time we met, she seemed overwhelmed with everything: her full-time course load, her full-time job, and her full-time family. She confided that she was having a difficult time balancing it all.

I could empathize with her struggles because I too had been a non-traditional student.

I didn’t attend college seriously until I was in my mid-20s. The last time I cried in my adviser’s office, I was taking an ill-advised 21 credits, working 40 hours per week at a gas station plus another 10 hours weekly in my writing center work study position, holding down a marriage, and had just learned I was pregnant with my first child. Exhausted, frustrated, and overworked were only a handful of the adjectives I had to describe my life. That afternoon, like she had many times before, Amy Getty reached for her box of tissues, poured me a cup of tea, and helped me prioritize both my personal and academic needs. Without such a caring adviser, I would not have survived college, let alone thrived to graduate with honors and later go on to graduate school. When I finally started graduate school, I was a single parent raising a three-year-old daughter.

There were a number of mentors I had along the way who reached well beyond the scope of helping me survive graduate school as a single mom with few resources.

Now that I’m a working professional in a writing center, I can now see the fruits of my time as a non-traditional student and the importance of those mentors who went beyond “just doing their jobs.” This is the opportunity I now have myself. Because I have carried those same burdens, it is easy for me to look past just the tutoring assignments and treat students as individuals with individual needs. Sometimes before we can get to work on an accounting memo or an MIS presentation, we have to discuss more pressing matters: You look stressed. How are the kids? The job? Are you managing well? What can I do to help you? Sit down. I’ll get you a cup of tea. Ready? Let’s get to work.

– Jamie Sass, assistant director of the Ivy College of Business Communications Center