Dr. Shinian Wu
Shinian Wu, Ph.D., is a professor of English at Grand Valley State University and the recipient of the 2019 Outstanding Educator Award. Alumni nominate a faculty member who has had a significant impact on the careers of alumni, and the Grand Valley Alumni Association presents the award annually at April’s commencement.
Dr. Wu joined Grand Valley’s faculty in 1998. His research focus includes linguistic theory and second language acquisition. He teaches undergraduate linguistics courses, as well as courses in the English Department’s Master’s program in applied linguistics. He has also trained teachers in the College of Education’s Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program.
In the classroom, Dr. Wu's teaching makes a lasting impact on his students. Every semester, for example, Dr. Wu serves as a guest lecturer in ENG 304 International Literature for Children & Young Adults, where he shares personal experiences during the cultural revolution in China with students who have read a novel set during that time period. His comments are not only informative and insightful, but deeply moving. Course evaluations document how powerful this session is for students.
Dr. Wu's effectiveness as an instructor is cited by students in many other classes as well. His extensive knowledge of grammar, his analytical mind, his subtle humor, and his sensitivity to the nuances of language use are among the many traits that students love, traits that build bonds that last long after the students graduate.
“He impressed me by his rigorous academic standards and patience towards students. My weekly visit to Dr. Wu’s office greatly boosted my enthusiasm for linguistics,” said Yuanjun Qi, ’14. “Also, as a bilingual speaker, he endeavored to tackle my questions in both English and Chinese, with lots of easy-to-understand examples.”
Dr. Wu has maintained supportive relationships with Grand Valley alumni in a variety of fields. He has served as a mentor to students who have gone on to get jobs in the publishing industry, helping them to work through problematic questions of grammar that might emerge in their lives as editors. And he has maintained long-term mentoring relationships with students who have gone on to teach English both in the U.S. and abroad, writing recommendations, dispensing career advice, and helping them develop their own pedagogy.
“Dr. Wu has been a great support to me over the last 16 years. I have stayed in touch with him about teaching ESL, translating paperwork into Chinese, and seeking cultural advice regarding my Chinese students here in the U.S. With each and every contact I have made, Dr. Wu has been readily willing and available to professionally consult, collaborate, and advise,” said Amy N. Devanney, ’93.
In 2016, Dr. Wu helped organize an alumni event, attended by President Thomas J. Haas, at Xi’an International Studies University in Xi’an, China. He was instrumental in making sure that GVSU alumni from across China were able to attend the event and meet President Haas. Because of the strong relationships he’s developed with faculty members and students, Dr. Wu has also facilitated exchanges between XISU and GVSU, and led study abroad trips to Xi’an.
The recognition Dr. Wu has received includes the Pineapple Award, presented by the Padnos International Center; and the Distinguished Overseas Scholar, from the Shaanxi Provincial Government in China.
Dr. Wu earned a bachelor’s degree from Xi’an Institute of Foreign Languages, and master’s and doctoral degrees from Northern Arizona University.