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Updated 10:00 AM October 26, 2009

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R. T. (Tom) Lenaghan

R. T. (Tom) Lenaghan, professor emeritus in the Department of English Language and Literature, died Oct. 2.

Lenaghan achieved a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa in 1949, attended Yale Law School from 1949-50, and completed Master of Arts and doctoral degrees at Harvard in 1957. After spending 1959-61 at UCLA, he joined the U-M faculty as an assistant professor in 1961. He was promoted to associate professor in 1965 and professor in 1973, and worked at U-M until his retirement in 1997.

A distinguished scholar, he published widely on Geoffrey Chaucer and other medieval writers, and he contributed substantially to an ongoing project of editing medieval writers for modern readers. He edited Chaucer's short poems for the "Riverside Chaucer." He also wrote articles that advanced understanding of Caxton, England's first printer, and edited a book of Aesop's fables printed by Caxton.

For most of his career at U-M, Lenaghan also contributed to the field of composition. He co-edited the "Norton Reader," a composition textbook that ran through many editions (1965-87), and influenced how writing was taught in American universities. His concern was genuine for general and specialist education, colleagues say, and his teaching was recognized in a University Teaching Award in 1988.

Lenaghan's influence was felt as well in university governance, as he participated energetically in the Senate Assembly, including the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs and a number of committees (Tenure, Rules, Budget Priorities), between 1966 and 1987. Many colleagues remember him as a genial and welcoming presence in the department, a man who worked hard to create a positive intellectual environment and fair working conditions for both faculty and graduate students.

Lenaghan is survived by his wife Marsha Dutton, son Robert Thomas and daughter-in-law Laurence. He was buried Oct. 12 at St. Thomas Cemetery in Ann Arbor.
— Submitted by Theresa Tinkle, Department of English Language and Literature

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