About Dean Anne Curzan

As dean of Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University of Michigan, Anne Curzan is committed to advancing the college as the leading model for the power of a liberal arts education within a top-ranked research university. She is deeply invested in people and fostering a diverse and inclusive college where all can thrive. The academic excellence of the college is, in the end, all about people. Curzan aims to promote a culture based in purpose and contributing to the common good, the power of learning, the value of play, and the importance of well-being. She encourages students to explore the remarkable breadth of LSA to find the subjects and questions that genuinely excite them, with the confidence that the college will support students in connecting their liberal arts education to their aspirations and goals for life post-college.

Dean Curzan, a trained linguist, studies the history of the English language. She describes herself as a fount of random linguistic information about how English got to be the way it is—information she shares every Sunday on the show “That’s What They Say” on Michigan Public Radio. She has dedicated one major strand of her career to helping students and the broader public understand linguistic diversity as part of cultural diversity, and language change as a natural part of living languages. Curzan can also be found talking about language on the blog Lingua Franca for the Chronicle of Higher Education, in short videos on the LSA Wire, and in the column “Talking About Words” in Michigan Today. Her TEDx talk at UM called “What makes a word ‘real’?” has over 1.2 million views on the national TED site. Curzan has received university awards for outstanding research and undergraduate teaching, including the Henry Russel Award and the John Dewey Award. She is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and the Geneva Smitherman Collegiate Professor of English Language and Literature, Linguistics, and Education.

Prior to becoming dean in 2019, Curzan held multiple administrative roles, including Associate Dean for the Humanities for LSA, Faculty Athletics Representative for the University of Michigan, and Director of the English Department Writing Program. She teaches courses on the history of English, English grammar, language and gender, and the dynamics of conversations. She earned her B.A. in linguistics from Yale University and her Ph.D. in English language and literature from the University of Michigan.