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More than 50 years ago, Judi Herbert graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a bachelor’s degree in English.

Judi and Jim Herbert
Judi and Jim Herbert

On Friday, October 11, the Writing Center, housed in UT’s College of Arts and Sciences, will be dedicated in recognition of her long history of support for the center and the university. A ceremony to recognize the Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center will be held at 3:30 p.m. in Room 212 of the Humanities and Social Sciences Building.

Herbert and her husband, Jim, set up the Jim and Judi Herbert Excellence in Writing Endowment in 2017 to support undergraduate tutoring, services to upper-division students who are not English majors, and the development of workshops for faculty across academic disciplines to discuss best practices for designing and assessing writing assignments.

“It makes no difference what students are doing—nuclear physics, business, science, agriculture—they still need to be able to express it,” Herbert said. “It’s one thing to know it, but to be able to communicate it to someone else is very important.”

Herbert has loved reading for as long as she can remember. She entered UT as an education major, but after taking an English literature course in her freshman year she quickly changed majors, became a grader for a professor, and graduated with an English degree in 1963.

Over the years, she noticed a need for better writing at the university level.

“Young people came into my husband’s business, and looking at resumes with him I was appalled by their writing skills,” Herbert said.

She set her sights on supporting the Writing Center, which has existed in some capacity at UT since it was launched as the English Laboratory in 1937. In the years since, the center has moved a handful of times. Today it is no longer a laboratory serving only a handful of English majors but a nationally recognized writing program that serves nearly 18,000 students yearly from every college on campus.

“Judi Herbert has played a major role in helping us put into place the key ingredients for preparing good writers across disciplines,” said Kirsten Benson, director of the center.

Whether they’re writing for resumes, class assignments, academic publications, or other purposes, the newly named Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center will be able to set students on the road toward future success.

Judi Herbert’s support for writing services at UT is one of many philanthropic efforts by the Herbert family. The couple was named UT Philanthropists of the Year in 2016, and the Herbert College of Agriculture was named in their honor in 2018.

“Jim wanted to help agriculture at UT because it is a program that is very dear to his heart,” Judi Herbert said. “I wanted something that can help not only first-year students in the College of Arts and Sciences but could impact the whole university. The Writing Center has that impact.”

About the Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center

The mission of the Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center is to help UT students in all disciplines by offering free and individualized help throughout the writing process. Trained tutors read and discuss student writing in one-to-one conversations and offer constructive feedback. The center teaches students how to think about their written work from the brainstorming stage to final revisions. Most services are offered on a walk-in first-come, first-served basis.

The Herberts’ support has allowed the center to provide for the creation of targeted help for students preparing application materials such as cover letters, resumes, and personal statements for prospective employers and graduate schools; support for students needing help with citing source material correctly; appointments for students in upper-division writing-intensive courses; workshops for graduate students working on theses or dissertations; and writing-in-the-disciplines workshops for faculty.

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Brian Canever (865-974-0937,

Amanda Womac (865-974-2992,