Alumni News

October 25, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Notable Alumni | Linguistics Alum Returns to Share Expertise on Reading Comprehension

Graphic for College of Arts & Sciences Notable Alumni Award

Editor’s Note: The College of Arts & Sciences launches the Notable Alumni Awards, honoring 37 Notable Alumni in 2017 for broad accomplishments in their careers, a commitment to community service, and valuable contributions to Ohio University, the College of Arts & Sciences, and its students.

Dr. William Grabe ’78 Linguistics

Ohio University alum William Grabe got his academic start as a graduate student, publishing his first paper of a distinguished academic career in the “Ohio University Working Papers.” And he comes back to Athens to continue to share his knowledge of teaching reading development.

Grabe earned an M.A. in Linguistics in 1978 from the College of Arts & Sciences at OHIO.

He is currently Regents’ Professor of Applied Linguistics in the English Department at Northern Arizona University, having earned a Ph.D. in 1984 from the University of Southern California. He is also serving as Special Assistant to the President for 2017-18.

William Grabe

William Grabe

Grabe returned to campus for a colloquium discussion with Linguistics faculty and staff on “Foundations of L2 Reading Development.”

He has published on topics in reading, writing, literacy, written discourse analysis, content-based L2 instruction, and applied linguistics as discipline. He has lectured and given teacher-training workshops in more than 30 countries around the world.

But, he notes, “My first publication was in the Ohio University Working Papers in Applied Linguistics in 1979.” And he’s been back to Athens before to share his knowledge about teaching reading comprehension and awareness of text structure at an OHIO alumni conference.

Recent books include Reading in a Second Language: Moving from Theory to Practice (Cambridge University Press, 2009), Researching and Teaching Reading. 2nd ed. (with F. Stoller) (Routledge, 2011), and Teaching English to Second-Language Learners in Academic Contexts: Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking (with J. Newton, et al.) (Routledge, 2018).

He served as editor of the Annual Review of Applied Linguistics (Cambridge University Press, 1990-2000). He is a past president of the American Association for Applied Linguistics (2001-2002). In 2005, he received the Distinguished Scholarship and Service Award from the American Association for Applied Linguistics. From 2012 to 2017, he served as Vice President for Research at Northern Arizona University.

Career Highlights

  • One of the First Senior Fulbright Scholars into the People’s Republic of China in 1980-1981, Shanghai Foreign Languages Institute (now Shanghai International Studies University).
  • President of the American Association for Applied Linguistics (2001-2002)
  • Recipient of the American Association for Applied Linguistics Distinguished Scholarship and Service Award, the highest formal award in the field of Applied Linguistics. (2005)
  • Enjoyed a 26-year long consulting relationship with Educational Testing Service’s TOEFL program. Was a primary consultant for the development of the reading section for the current internet-based TOEFL exam.
  • Promoted to NAU Regents Professor of Applied Linguistics by the Arizona Board of Regents (2008)
  • Served as NAU Vice President for Research from 2012 to 2017. NAU increased Research Expenditures from $28 million to $46 million in those 5 years.
  • Currently serving as a Special Assistant to the President until June 30th. (2017-2018)
  • More than 130 books, edited volumes, journal articles, and book chapters.

Connections to Ohio University

  • Outstanding Alumni Award—Ohio University, College of Arts and Sciences, 1994.
  • Teaching reading comprehension and awareness of text structure; featured talk presented at Ohio University Alumni conference. Athens, OH, May, 2011.

Favorite Bobcat Memory

“Sitting out by the Commons and listening to the student drum line practice their drumming by the main gate” is Grabe’s favorite memory.

Ohio University Mentor:

My number one OHIO Mentor was Jim Coady. He taught me Phonology and Sociolinguistics. He also taught a course on Research in Second Language Reading in 1977. Since then, I’ve been at it for the past 40 years now. He has been involved with, and supportive of me at many points in my career.



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