Faculty Profile: Dr. William Palmer
Although William Palmer stuttered throughout his childhood, he developed a love for words that continues to this day.
“Stuttering was a wound in my life, but inside this wound I found a gift—the ability to write and the ability to teach writing,” the professor of English says.
“Because of this problem, I found a calling to teach English. I wanted to help others who were afraid of writing—the way I used to be afraid of speaking.”
Earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Central Michigan University and his doctorate from Michigan State, Palmer came to Alma in 1977 to teach freshman composition.
He authored a composition textbook, Discovering Arguments: An Introduction to Critical Thinking and Writing, and uses essays from Alma College students as examples of excellent writing. He also published a chapbook of poems, A String of Blue Lights.
“I love helping students grow as writers, readers and thinkers in their personal, academic and professional lives,” he says.
One of the ways he helps students grow is by exposing them to new experiences. He received national media attention for taking his writing students to Alma’s human anatomy lab to learn how and why scientists use cadavers. He has supervised students to teach poetry workshops in prisons and nursing homes, and he has developed a course on the male journey.
“I appreciate how Alma College has encouraged me to experiment as a teacher and to write articles and give presentations about my methods,” he says.
Palmer received the Barlow Award for outstanding teaching in 1992, the Charles A. Dana Professorship honoring innovation in teaching English in 1993 and the outstanding faculty member—humanities division award in 1996 and 2006.