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Robert Gundlach

Professor Emeritus, Department of Linguistics and The Cook Family Writing Program

PhD, Northwestern University

Robert Gundlach became professor emeritus in September 2022. From 1977 until 2019, he was the founding director of Northwestern’s Bobbie and Stanton Cook Family Writing Program. He continued as a faculty associate of the program until 2022.  He was also a professor in the Department of Linguistics, where he served as department chair from 2004 until 2007. Throughout his career, he taught extensively in both the Cook Family Writing Program and the Department of Linguistics. In recognition of his teaching, he was named Martin J. and Patricia Koldyke Outstanding Teaching Professor in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences for 1998-2000. He was also named several times to Northwestern’s Associated Student Government Faculty Honor Roll, most recently in 2018-19.

Combining his interest in writing instruction and his interest in children's language development, he has long been engaged with questions related to how children learn to write and how people continue to develop writing ability through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. His essays range from “Children as Writers: The Beginnings of Learning to Write,” “On the Nature and Development of Children’s Writing,” and “What It Means to Be Literate” to “Words and Lives: Language, Literacy, and Culture in Multilingual Chicago,” “The Future of Writing Ability,” and “Reflections on the Future of Writing Development.” He has been a consultant or advisory board member for numerous organizations, including the National Institute of Education, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the New York State Education Department, the Illinois State Board of Education, the Center for the Study of Writing at the University of California-Berkeley, the Center for English Learning and Achievement at the  University of Wisconsin-Madison, The Erikson Institute for the Study of Child Development, and Rice University. He also served on the editorial boards of Written Communication and Discourse Processes. 

At Northwestern, he served in a number of additional roles, including chair of the Northwestern University Press faculty editorial board; co-chair of the University Strategic Plan working group on teaching, learning, and assessment; director of a consortium on language and writing instruction; adviser to an intensive English language summer program for international graduate students; associate director of the university-wide Center for the Writing Arts; director of a summer institute on Thinking and Writing: Teaching Writing in the Secondary School; and faculty chair of the Communications Residential College. He also served on many institution-level committees, including the Faculty Advisory Committee for the Provost’s Initiative in Support of Faculty Excellence, the Program Review Council, the Advisory Council for the Office of Fellowships, the Humanities Council for the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, the steering committee for the Center for Civic Engagement, the advisory committee for the Multimedia Learning Center, and the faculty advisory committee for the Chicago Field Studies Program.

From 2002 until 2022, he was Northwestern's Faculty Athletics Representative to the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference. In this role, he served as chair of the Big Ten Faculty Representatives, co-chair of the Big Ten Joint Group, chair of the Big Ten Academics and Eligibility Subcommittee, and member of the Big Ten Program and Budget Review Committee. He also served on the NCAA Academics, Eligibility, and Compliance Cabinet, the Cabinet’s subcommittee on initial eligibility, and two NCAA working groups on academic issues. He served twice as Northwestern’s Interim Director of Athletics and Recreation, first from January 1 until April 13, 2008, and again from May 13 until June 30, 2021.

In 2020, he received Northwestern’s Provost Award for Exemplary Faculty Service.

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