Established by the Board of Regents in 1947, the Distinguished University Professor is the most prestigious professorship awarded to a U-M faculty member. It recognizes senior faculty with exceptional scholarly achievements, national and international reputations for academic excellence, and superior records of teaching, mentoring, and service.
Traditionally, Distinguished University Professors name their professorship after a person of distinction in their field. McCracken selected Anna Julia Cooper and her official title is the Anna Julia Cooper Distinguished University Professor of Medieval French Literature. Cooper remains one of the most prominent African-American scholars in the United States. Known as “the Mother of Black Feminism,” Cooper was born into slavery and later earned a PhD in French from the Sorbonne. She was the fourth African American woman to earn a doctoral degree.
In their nomination, Provost Laurie McCauley and Dean of Rackham Michael Solomon wrote, “Professor McCracken’s students prize her as a teacher and mentor. Undergraduates praise her dedication in helping them develop as rigorous, critical, and creative scholars and thinkers. She is an extraordinary mentor to graduate students who uniformly praise her scholarly rigor, attentiveness, accessibility, and frankness coupled with an unflagging degree of respect and support. She has directed or co-directed fifteen Ph.D. dissertations and, as evidence of her remarkable interdisciplinary breadth, has served on fifty-six other dissertation committees in no less than eleven fields, including French, Spanish, English, comparative literature, women’s and gender studies, classics, history, art history, and music theory.”
McCracken arrived at U-M in 1999. She currently holds faculty appointments in RLL, Comparative Literature, and Women and Gender Studies. McCracken has also served a number of administrative roles, including her current appointment as the Director of the Institute for Humanities. She has published six books, a translation, and six co-edited volumes, as well as numerous articles and book chapters.
McCracken is the second faculty member from RLL to receive a Distinguished University Professorship. L. Ross Chambers was awarded the honor in 1985.