Faculty image Erich Albert Walter
Biography/Memoir

Professor of English Language & Literature

Professor of African and African American Studies

Dean of Students

Secretary of the University

 

ERICH ALBERT WALTER, Professor of English and former Dean of Students who became, during the last fourteen years, Assistant to the President and Secretary of the University, has formally commenced his retirement at the statutory age of seventy. Counting a year's employment in the University while he was a senior in Ann Arbor High School, he has been associated with the University continuously for fifty-three years.

Graduated from the Literary College in 1919, Mr. Walter proceeded to earn a master's degree in 1921, and pursued further studies formally here and informally in England. In the Department of Rhetoric-which he joined immediately upon his graduation from college, before it was subsumed into the English Department-he established himself as a model of firm but genial pedagogy and a discriminating scholar of essay literature. His capacity for eliciting the best efforts of his students was acknowledged when he was made chairman of the Freshman English Program in 1927. The most tangible fruit of his scholarship was the series of Essay Annuals, which he edited, each one comprehending the major accomplishments of the year in the genre of the essay. This enjoyed wide currency from its initiation in 1933 until its discontinuance during the Second World War. The University elevated him through the several ranks to a professorship in 1947.

In 1935, having already performed some offices for the Literary College administration, he was made chairman of an augmented body of Academic Counselors. Thereafter he became increasingly occupied with College and University affairs, reluctantly diminishing his commitment to teaching. Appointed Assistant Dean of the Literary College in 1938 and Associate Dean in 1945, he mediated between the College administration and the student body with his accustomed firmness and humanity. In 1946, when the campus was inundated with veterans, the University appointed him Dean of Students and director of the newly instituted Office of Student Affairs. The two generations of students who knew him in that capacity confessed in him a quickness of sympathy and devotion to principle, such as the exigencies of mass administration might seem to have rendered obsolete.

In 1953, President Hatcher called upon him to replace the late Dr. Frank E. Robbins as presidential assistant; five years later, upon the retirement of Mr. Herbert G. Watkins, he was appointed also secretary of the University. In these last offices, he performed for his beloved University services of incalculable value. It was his steadfast concern that the University discharge its corporate obligations with decency and dispatch and that it show, to the multitude and diversity of persons upon whose lives it impinged, a fitting dignity and an unstinting generosity. As protocol officer of the University, Mr. Walter willingly supported the proper eminence of persons and institutions enjoying high public esteem. He was delighted, for example, to represent the University at the installation of Her Majesty the Queen Mother as Chancellor of the University of London. It was nevertheless characteristic of him that he extended to persons lacking any vestige of name or fame the same unfailing courtesy and the same deftness of consideration which won him the affectionate regard of Regents and distinguished guests.

The Regents of the University herewith appoint him Assistant Emeritus to the President, Secretary Emeritus of the University, and Professor Emeritus of English. Availing themselves of this opportunity to salute him again, they tender him their warm personal good wishes and make known to him the enduring honor in which his selfless devotion is held.

Regents' Proceedings, August 1967, Page 709

Reflections/Stories
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