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Obituary

Stephen Dunning
LSA Minutes

Stephen Dunning, Professor Emeritus of English Language and Literature in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and Professor of Education in the School of Education, died on March 4, 2005, at the age of 80.

Professor Dunning received his B.A. degree from Carleton College in 1949, his B.S. and M.A. degrees from the University of Minnesota in 1951, and his Ph.D. degree from Florida State University in 1959. He came to The University of Michigan as an associate professor of English and Education in 1964, having served previously on the faculties of Duke University from 1959 to 1961 and Northwestern University from 1962-1964. He was promoted to professor of English and Education in 1967.

He brought to his central role as an educator of teachers his own experience as a pre-collegiate educator, having taught junior and senior high school English for eight years in Minnesota, New Mexico, and Florida before receiving his Ph.D.

Although Professor Dunning came to Michigan both to educate prospective teachers and to chair the joint Ph.D. program in English and Education, his impact upon American public education spread far beyond the University and the State of Michigan. His national stature was recognized by the offices he held in national organizations. From 1970 to 1972 he served as national chairman of the Conference on English and Education and from 1974 to 1975, as president of the National Council of Teachers of English, the pre-eminent organization of English educators.

He published influential articles on issues in education and wrote textbooks and curricular materials that were widely adopted. He was coauthor of NCTE’s bestselling Getting the Knack: 20 Poetry Writing Exercises. Professor Dunning did much to bring modern poetry into American school classrooms. He edited several important anthologies, among them “Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle” and Other Modern Verse,” organized and sponsored readings, and recorded poets reading and talking about their works and lives.

As his career matured, he devoted more and more energy to his own writing. A book of poetry, Running with Bill, was published in 1985, and a book of short stories, To the Beautiful Women, in 1990. After retirement he wrote another book of poetry, Good Words in 1991, and another book of short stories, Hunter’s Park in 1996.

But always a teacher, Professor Dunning organized and ran writing groups and poetry workshops for both school children and adults. In his role as chair of the joint Ph.D. program in English and Education, he served many classes of graduate students, many of whom have gone on to important careers in English.

Submitted by the Department of English Language and Literature