Arthur L. Simpson, Jr. - 2012 Outstanding Former Faculty
Department of English
Professor Emeritus Arthur L. Simpson, Department of English, taught at the University of Wyoming for 28 years. “He has devoted his life to scholarship and teaching and to making scholarship and excellent teaching possible at all levels,” said Mary Fenton, a former graduate student.
Although dedicated to his own research, Simpson also committed his life to helping undergraduates to succeed in college-level English. Simpson was the founding director of the Wyoming Conference on Freshmen and Sophomore English and served as the conference’s organizer multiple times throughout his career. “The conference provided high school and college teachers opportunities to meet top-flight scholars and discuss composition in the university,” said Stephen Watt, a former graduate student. Simpson, a mentor to both students and colleagues, believes that literature and writing are bound together in study and in teaching. In 1970, he chaired the Freshman Textbook Committee, coordinating the orientation and work of teaching assistants. “He provided me and my fledgling colleagues with an indispensable learning experience,” remembers Watt.
Simpson equipped young professors with the knowledge they needed to offer a competent level of instruction in freshman writing courses. “Art envisioned the department as a scholarly literary and writing community,” recalls Professor Emeritus Thomas Preston, University of North Texas, Department of English. He kept this vision as he served as the director of freshman English and as acting head of the Department of English during the summers. For the 1989-1990 academic year, Simpson was awarded the Seibold Faculty Research Grant for $55,000 to conduct a research project to improve instruction. Participating on multiple committees, including university committees, college committees, and department committees, Simpson showed his support for UW.
Simpson received a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Rice University in English and Philosophy. As a scholar in Victorian poetry and American Literature, he published 14 works, eight of them refereed. His work in Victorian poetry appeared in one of the top two periodicals of Victorian Poetry and many of his works have been reprinted or reviewed.
Through research and instruction, Simpson shared his breadth of knowledge and passion for the English language, significantly impacting his peers and students. He once declared before a group of graduate students, “If you are going to call yourself a master of anything, you had darned well better be a master. And if you are going to call yourself a professor, you had darned well better have something to profess and be professional about it.”