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By Laurel Thomas
Anne Ruggles Gere, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and director of the Sweetland Center for Writing at the University of Michigan, has been named a Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year by the Michigan Association of State Universities.
Gere, the Gertrude Buck Collegiate Professor of Education and chair of the Joint Ph.D. Program in English and Education, will be honored April 20 by the organization that represents the state’s 15 public universities, in recognition of her innovative approaches to pedagogy and the numerous programs she has initiated to strengthen undergraduate education.
“Professor Gere, a national leader in developing new writing pedagogies, combines close work with students, training of peer educators, engagement with faculty, and information from learning analytics to strengthen students’ writing and the learning that accompanies it,” said U-M Provost Martin Philbert, who nominated Gere for the honor.
“We are pleased to see her contributions recognized with this MASU award.”
Gere joined the U-M faculty in 1987. She holds joint appointments in the School of Education and the Department of English in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. She has directed the Sweetland Center for Writing since 2008.
Her most recent work is M-Write, a Third Century Initiative-funded project that focuses on implementing writing-to-learn methods and practices in large-enrollment courses across multiple departments in LSA and the College of Engineering. The program uses automated text analysis to provide feedback about student learning to students and faculty.
She has led efforts to enhance STEM education, incorporate multimedia into writing courses, assist transfer students with the transition to U-M, enhance teacher quality, and raise awareness about multicultural learning.
“As a teacher, I am always trying to work myself out of a job. My goal is to enable students to leave my class able to continue learning on their own,” Gere said. “In addition to wanting students to become more independent learners, I aim to foster their capacities as critical thinkers. In the most general sense, I want their familiars to become strange.
“I want to prepare students for a future none of us can predict. In my teaching, I foster a mental flexibility that can solve problems and a comfort with technologies that require them to read and write differently.”
This honor is given annually to faculty throughout the state of Michigan in recognition of a sustained commitment to undergraduate education. It recognizes faculty for impact on and involvement with undergraduate students, individualized and experiential learning, scholarship and innovation in teaching and learning, and contributions to undergraduate education at the institution and beyond.
“Professor Anne Ruggles Gere represents the very best of teaching, inclusivity and dedication to student success,” said Daniel Hurley, CEO of the Michigan Association of State Universities. “She fosters student development with her undergraduate students and also in the K-12 system, symbolizing the excellence in higher education for which Michigan’s public universities are globally renowned.”
At Michigan, Gere has received the Regents’ Award for Distinguished Public Service, the D’Arms Award for Distinguished Graduate Student Mentoring, a Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award, a Michigan Humanities Award, and a fellowship from the Institute for the Humanities.
She also has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Spencer Foundation.
Gere has served as president of the National Council of Teachers of English, as chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, and this year became president of the Modern Language Association.
She has published a dozen books and more than 100 articles.
Recent recipients of this award include Barry Fishman, information and education (2017) and Brian Coppola, chemistry, LSA (2016).
By Jeff Bleiler