The Faculty History Project documents faculty members who have been associated with the University of Michigan since 1837. Key in this effort is to celebrate the intellectual life of the University. This Faculty History Website is intended as a component of the effort to document the extraordinary academic achievements of Michigan’s faculty in building and sustaining one of the world’s great universities. It provides access to a comprehensive database of information concerning the thousands of faculty members who have served the University of Michigan.
Find out more.

The Bentley Historical Library serves as the official archives for the University.


William Alexander
Regents' Proceedings 203

William Alexander, Ph.D., Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, professor of English language and literature, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and professor of art and design, Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design, will retire from active faculty status on December 31, 2016.

Professor Alexander received his A.B. (1960) degree from Harvard University, his B.A. (1962) from Cambridge University, and his Ph.D. (1967) degree from Harvard University. He joined the University of Michigan faculty as an assistant professor in 1971, and was promoted to associate professor in 1977, and professor in 1982. He was named an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in 2003.

Professor Alexander's expertise includes American documentary film, political theater and video, empowering pedagogy, and prison creative arts. His book entitled Is William Martinez Not Our Brother? Twenty Years of the Prison Creative Arts Project (2010) won the University of Michigan Press Book Award in 2012. Professor Alexander's other book publications include Film on the Left: American Documentary Film from 1931 to 1942 (1981), and William Dean Howells: The Realist as Humanist (1981). He also published many articles on Latin American film, community-based theater, prison arts, and community-service learning. Professor Alexander was instrumental in developing seminal courses in film study that would become a basic part of what eventually became a department and a major in the College. He founded the Prison Creative Arts Program at the University of Michigan in 1990. Professor Alexander co-curated twenty annual exhibitions of art by Michigan prisoners since 1996. Two of his courses taught students how to facilitate workshops in the arts in urban high schools and Michigan juvenile facilities and prisons, and another course trained students to work one-on-one with incarcerated youth, helping them create professional portfolios of their art and writing.

The Regents now salute this distinguished scholar by naming William Alexander, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor Emeritus, professor emeritus of English language and literature, and professor emeritus of art and design.