New Ford faculty member Earl Lewis named Distinguished University Professor

July 18, 2019

Earl Lewis, who joins the Ford School faculty this year, was named a Distinguished University Professor by the Regents on Thursday. Effective September 1, this honor recognizes Earl’s scholarly achievements, reputation for academic excellence, and superior record of teaching, mentoring, and service. It is one of the most prestigious professorships at the university. Lewis is also professor of history and Afroamerican and African studies in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and the director of the Center for Social Solutions.

Lewis is one of the most widely respected historians in higher education. Through his books and research, he examines the role of race in American history, diversity, equity and inclusion, graduate education, humanities scholarship, and universities and their larger communities. Lewis has authored nine books; his first, which examined race, class and power in Norfolk, Virginia, set a new standard for social history. His journal articles have influenced the field of American and African American History.

He is also an education leader, sought after for his ability to work inclusively with many constituencies. He has held many leadership roles in academia, including when he was first with the University of Michigan from 1989 to 2004, including senior associate dean of the Rackham and dean and vice provost of academic affairs—graduate studies. He then went on to Emory University as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. In 2013 he became the president of The Andrew W Mellon Foundation. Lewis returned to U-M in 2018.  

Lewis selected the title of Thomas C. Holt Distinguished University Professor of History, Afromerican and African Studies, and Public Policy. Holt is a professor of African and American history at the University of Chicago. He taught at U-M from 1979 to 1988. His research includes groundbreaking work on the history of the people in the African diaspora of the Caribbean and the United States.

The Ford School’s Bob Axelrod also holds the designation of Distinguished University Professor Emeritus. Paul Courant and John Z. Ayanian (faculty by courtesy) also received the designation at the July 18 Regents meeting.

Lewis will deliver an inaugural lecture during the academic year to formally mark the appointment.

Congratulations, Earl! And welcome to the Ford School!