Professor Reed honored with Jefferson Award

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January 27, 2012

1:16 AM

Associate English professor Ann Reed will be honored with the Jefferson Award at the Charter Day celebrations Feb. 3.

The award is given annually to a member of the College of William and Mary community for his or her service to the College through personal activities, influence and leadership.

Reed is known among colleagues and students for her pioneering efforts at the College.

She helped to pave the way for female faculty and staff members by serving as the first woman chair of the English department in addition to creating the linguistics program at the College.

“She’s led the linguistics program for the full 36 years that she’s been here and made it into what it is today,” English professor Talbot Taylor said. “It’s very successful program. She’s definitely been the guiding force. I don’t think we’d have a linguistics program if we hadn’t had Ann Reed.”

Reed’s career at the College has been marked with multiple accomplishments, and her passion for linguistics and for sharing that connection with students distinguishes her as a professor.

“It’s taken me some years to realize how unusual it is to be able to do what you’re interested in and share that with students,” Reed said. “The students are very responsive, very smart and even though they’re worried about their job and their future, the students who come here generally love learning. You really feel as though you’re there with students who value something about what they’re doing and that’s pure pleasure.”

At the start of Reed’s career at the College, the linguistics program only graduated fewer than three students per year. The program currently graduates approximately 20 to 30 students per year.

“She was very important in helping the program expand,” English department chair Susan Donaldson said. “Through her work, she was able to charge up a lot of enthusiasm for linguistics.”

Taylor wrote a nomination letter for the Jefferson Award on behalf of Reed. He felt that her dedication to the school and her commitment to the program deserved recognition.

“It was by working alongside Ann that I learned how to be that distinctive figure: a W&M professor,” Taylor wrote in his letter. “In W&M linguistics classes, students have always been treated — entirely due to the example set by Ann — like members of a family. She invites her students to her West Williamsburg house at least a couple of times each semester: to play Scrabble and other word games, to eat and talk in a relaxed atmosphere, to talk about their future plans and hopes, and — perhaps most of all — to help them to understand that coursework is a cooperative endeavor between student and teacher, one based not just on intellect and homework, but on mutual trust, personal connection, and good will — just as the best of families are.”

Despite numerous accomplishments, Reed maintains a humble nature.

Her shy demeanor has proved to be one of her finest characteristics.

Reed is known to break up large classes into smaller groups, spending more time working with individual students.

“It was a lot more work for her, because it was breaking down a 40 person class to a bunch of smaller groups,” Sophie Berman ’13, one of Reed’s students, said. “But she really puts the students first. At the meetings, sometimes she would bring in cookies for the group. A year later, when I went to her office hours, she remembered my favorite cookie.”

The smaller groups have allowed Reed to form a strong connection with her students.

“She went out of her way to make sure the students understood the material,” Amanda Boitano ’13, one of Reed’s students, said. “She’s also really encouraging. She doesn’t just lecture to you. She reviews your work personally. She’s so encouraging as a professor.”

The women’s faculty network and the campus daycare center were two initiatives Reed helped push through the administration. Additionally, as the first woman chair of the English department, Reed led the fight to reduce class size from approximately 50 students to 30 students. She also helped to implement the junior-leave program in the English department so that tenured faculty could complete the research requirement.

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About Author

Senior staff writer Katherine Chiglinsky '14 is an English and economics major from Roanoke, Va. She was previously Editor-in-Chief, News Editor, Variety Editor and Associate Variety Editor.