Arlette Willis (inducted 2020)

College of Education, University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign


aiwillis [at]

Mailing Address: 

University of Illinois, College of Education, 1310 South 6th St., MC708, Champaign, IL 61820


(217) 333-1668

Biographical Statement

Arlette Ingram Willis received her Ph. D. from The Ohio State University. She is currently a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, the division of Language and Literacy. Her scholarship consists of interrogating how conceptions of race are framed in reading research, examining secondary pre-service English teacher education, and applying critical theories to literacy policy and research. Willis also has on-going research collaborations work with colleagues in Brazil, Columbia, and New Zealand who examine the influence of Paulo Freire’s theorizing and instruction. Her publications include numerous books, book chapters, co-edited books, and refereed journal articles. She also has presented her research at international and national conferences since 1990 (Brazil, England, New Zealand). 


Willis is a past Fulbright Scholar (2013-2014), conducting research in Brazil on the life and critical scholarship of Paulo Freire. She is a past president of the Literacy Research Association (2014) and the National Conference on Research in Language and Literacy (2007-2008). Willis has received numerous awards for her scholarship at the University of Illinois (University Scholar Award, 2000; Campus Award for Excellence in Guiding Undergraduate Research, 2001; and University Distinguished Teacher/Scholar, 2002-2003) as well as several College of Education awards (Distinguished Scholar Award, 1999; Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award, 1998, 2000; and Distinguished Teaching Career Award, 2010). Willis is a past recipient of the John J. Gumperz Award (2019, the Language and Social Processes SIG at AERA), and the Outstanding Researcher Award (1998, the Black SIG).