Longtime NAU professors create first endowed distinguished professorship in College of Arts and Letters

north campus

June 13, 2019

Two Northern Arizona University professors are continuing their legacy of research and scholarship in applied linguistics by creating a distinguished endowed professorship in the College of Arts and Letters.

Fredricka L. Stoller, an alumna and professor of English, and retired Regents’ Professor Emeritus and former Vice President for Research William Grabe have created the Stoller-Grabe Endowed Distinguished Professorship in Applied Linguistics/Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL). The new position, which will be the first distinguished endowed professorship in the College of Arts and Letters, will support the second-language classroom-based empirical research and scholarly activities of a distinguished professor whose work in the field will substantially advance the discipline.

Stoller and Grabe, who have a collective 70 years at NAU, share a commitment to applied linguistics research, TESL teacher training and a desire to make a difference in the lives of non-native English speakers, which motivated their gifts that will establish and endow a distinguished professorship in Applied Linguistics/TESL. The hiring of an endowed distinguished professor will enhance the university’s academic reputation among students, applied linguists and educators.

“Fredricka and Bill embody the Lumberjack spirit through their passion and commitment to NAU,” President Rita Cheng said.

“Their generosity will attract an eminent scholar to follow in their footsteps, to inspire generations of students and to create collaborations among applied linguistics and TESL faculty. Like they have, the distinguished professor supported by their endowment will forge new paths in applied linguistics.”

The endowment will not only help to empower teachers and improve the language-learning abilities of students in the classroom but also will strengthen the national and international reputations of NAU’s Applied Linguistics and TESL program. Both professors were instrumental in the formation of NAU’s Program in Intensive English and in the creation of the Applied Linguistics Ph.D. program in 1990—the only Ph.D. program in the College of Arts and Letters.

Sharing a love for second language research, teacher training and classroom teaching, Stoller and Grabe have traveled the world together to give teacher-training lectures and workshops and exchange ideas with other scholars to improve English language learning globally. They have mentored more than 40 applied linguistics Ph.D. graduates and hundreds of MA-TESL graduates.

“NAU allowed us to grow professionally and is helping us contribute to our fields through the classes we teach and the students we mentor,” Stoller said.

“My years in NAU higher administration also raised my awareness of the need to give back to NAU and support NAU’s research and teaching missions,” Grabe said. “I am proud to have helped change the research reputation and profile of the university, and we are happy to continue contributing to that vision.”