Northern Michigan University English Professor David Wood will deliver the keynote address at mid-year commencement on Saturday, Dec. 16. He is the second recipient of the Students’ Choice Award, a recognition program that allows graduating students to nominate a faculty or staff member to serve as the featured speaker at the ceremony.
“I am incredibly honored that the invitation came from the students, from [student government president] Tristan Ruiz and the ASNMU,” Wood said. “Like everyone who was fortunate enough to attend last year's December commencement, the first at which a faculty member was invited to serve as speaker, I was totally blown away with Dr. Marty Reinhardt's address and his incredibly moving Anishinaabe drum circle.
"I can't even begin to consider how to vie with such beauty in my address, so I plan to focus on my own personal and intellectual comfort zone. I am a Shakespeare scholar with a passion for the value of the arts and humanities. That's who I am, and that focus will define in large part the nature and thesis of my address.”
In April, Wood was named one of three Distinguished Professors of the Year by the Michigan Association of State Universities. The MASU award recognizes the outstanding contributions and dedication exhibited by the faculty from Michigan’s 15 public universities to the education of undergraduate students. He also has been honored by NMU with the 2015 Distinguished Faculty Award and 2011 Excellence in Teaching Award. He joined the NMU faculty in 2007.
As director of the Honors Program, Wood has doubled the program’s enrollment without diminishing standards. He played an instrumental role in landing the largest gift in the university’s history, which supports undergraduate Honors student learning. Thanks to this stewardship, Wood reinvigorated the Stratford Festival Endowment, enabling students to attend the renowned annual Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario.
As a Shakespeare scholar, Wood also infuses his academic work on disability into his literature classes, creating innovative courses that teach older primary course materials alongside culturally and politically current secondary materials. This work on disability studies extends to his service as trustee of the Tyler Rigg Foundation, where he can steer funding to areas of health, disability and alternative education.
Wood earned a B.A. from Skidmore College in 1993, an M.A. from the University of Alaska–Fairbanks in 2000, and a Ph.D. from Purdue University in 2004.