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By Kim Broekhuizen
ANN ARBOR—Anne Curzan, associate dean for the humanities and a recognized expert in language and linguistics, has been appointed dean of the University of Michigan’s largest academic unit, the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.
Her appointment, approved Thursday by the Board of Regents, is effective Sept. 1 and runs through June 30, 2024.
Curzan is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, Geneva Smitherman Collegiate Professor of English Language and Literature, associate dean for humanities, professor of English language and literature, professor of linguistics and professor of education.
“As an academic leader, Anne is familiar with the complexities and the challenges of this position and has demonstrated an impressive ability to combine vision and action effectively,” said Martin Philbert, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Her commitment to learning, diversity and excellence will make her an outstanding dean.”
She follows Andrew Martin, the former LSA dean who was named chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis. Elizabeth Cole has served as interim dean since July 2018.
Curzan has served as the associate dean for the humanities in LSA since 2015, working with 20 humanities chairs and directors, and supporting the new Digital Studies Institute and the LSA Opportunity Hub.
“I am excited and truly honored to have this opportunity to lead LSA as we continue to model what a world-class liberal arts college can achieve in research and education,” Curzan said. “I feel a deep loyalty to LSA and the University of Michigan, which is my Ph.D. alma mater and has been my faculty home for the past 17 years.
“I am surrounded by remarkable faculty colleagues, staff and students. As dean, I will work hard to ensure that each individual is valued for the perspectives and identities they bring and can thrive as they pursue meaningful work and lives.”
Curzan’s commitment to faculty, staff and students through her strategic support within LSA includes co-chairing a task force on future directions for the Comprehensive Studies Program and teaching in the Summer Bridge Scholars Program in 2014. She recently co-chaired a provost’s Task Force on a Michigan Undergraduate Education in the Third Century.
In addition to being an experienced administrator and teacher, Curzan is a published author of books on language, including “How English Works: A Linguistic Introduction” and “Fixing English: Prescriptivism and Language History,” as well as on teaching, including “First Day to Final Grade: A Graduate Student’s Guide to Teaching.”
She also created three audio-video courses for The Great Courses, including English Grammar Boot Camp. Curzan’s public engagement includes her position as a co-host of “That’s What They Say” on Michigan Public Radio, and as a biweekly blogger for six years for Lingua Franca, The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Curzan is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences and workshops throughout the country, and has received multiple awards. She received the Henry Russell Award in 2007, the Faculty Recognition Award in 2009, the 2012 John Dewey Award and the Linguistic Society of America’s Linguistics, Language, and the Public Award in 2016.
Curzan taught at the University of Washington in Seattle for four years before returning to U-M in 2002 as an assistant professor in the Department of English Language and Literature. She rose through the ranks to full professor in 2012.
She served as director of the English Department Writing Program from 2004 to 2012, which employs more than 120 instructors and teaches more than 6,000 students per year. She also served as the Department of English Language and Literature’s director of undergraduate studies from 2004 to 2007, and later as a co-director of the Joint Ph.D. Program in English and Education from 2010 to 2015.
In 2012, Curzan was appointed to serve as the university’s faculty athletics representative to the National Collegiate Athletic Association through 2016. In this role, she advised the president and the provost on matters of athletics and academics, and represented the university and its faculty to the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference.
She received a Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa and honors in linguistics from Yale University. She also earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in English language and literature from U-M.
By Jeff Bleiler