A Tribute to Dr. Archibald

From directing the Writing Center to creating the Literary Festival, Dr. Archibald has been a major presence in our English Community.  As he moves on to his next chapter, both figuratively and literally, the English Department wants to celebrate all his contributions.

Dr. Archibald has been at the center of Writing Studies for the last two decades at Millersville.  Teaching Advanced Writing, Visual Rhetoric, Reading Our World, Composition, Stylistics, and the Writing Studies Seminar while coordinating all activities of the Writing Center, Bill has easily influenced over 3000 students in his 20 years at Millersville. In creating the idea of a literary festival and organizing it with Jeff Boyer and Kasia Jakubiak, he brought writing to life in our midst. His thoughtful engagement with our students, his involvement with the writing and reading community, and his colorful stories all make Bill a tremendous person to work and socialize with.

While we are all excited for Bill to enjoy an active and fun retirement, there is no getting past the feeling of loss that we have, knowing that our last semester with Bill is this one, and we won’t get to see him haunting Chryst any more.  There will be a huge hole in the community as we contemplate a new experience without his calming and reaffirming presence.

So much travel I’ve enjoyed from my office desk thanks to Bill.  Hitchhiking cross country, living in a boarding house in New Orleans, avoiding German nuns, confronting drunk neighbors.  The rabbit holes I’ve enjoyed looking in and diving down.

Bill listens as though your words make a difference in how he sees the world.  And speaks as though a truth is just arriving between you.  What a delight to be in his company.

Caleb Corkery

Bill’s 70th Birthday

In addition to being our terrific, devoted Writing Center Director, Bill Archibald also happens to be an amazing person.  In another life under the sun, he was a smoke-jumper who extinguished wildfires out west and a housing contractor (I think).  Bill can build things (like Writing Centers, houses, and furniture); he’s a techno-maven and an elegant blogger. Bill was born in Fort Collins, Colorado, which, for me as a life-long Easterner, makes him exotic. And Bill has a super-power: kindness.  Bill is kind, compassionate, and empathetic toward everyone—a rare distinction.

Bill, it’s time to put the lessons you shared with our students to use: please write your memoir!  Enjoy a blissful retirement!

Love always to you and Robin—

Judy and Eddie

I don’t want Bill to retire. Even though I know that he deserves this time to finally immerse himself fully in his beloved writing, to finally publish a book or a number of books and become the renowned author that he should be, given his talent. Still, I cannot imagine this department without him. I will miss his warm presence, his sober attitude that kept many of us sane amidst the occasional department craziness, his inexhaustible passion for his field that has been inspiring and contagious. Bill’s constant eagerness to talk about writing and literature, to organize literary events and encourage us to participate in them has helped me feel a part of an intellectual environment that protects our creative sparks from being lost in the every-day grind of our jobs. In particular, I am grateful that I had a chance to collaborate with Bill on organizing the MU literary festival in Fall 2019. His enthusiasm and perseverance kept us working, even though resources were uncertain, deadlines short and schedules hard to juggle; the end result was a fantastic event that bonded and enriched our English community of students, faculty and alumni. And this event was only one part of Bill’s legacy that I hope will remain on our campus for many years to come. Enjoy your retirement, Bill! I know you will be only a few streets away from us, so please keep returning to campus for the future events we organize.

With love, Kasia.

Bill has always been a caring, thoughtful colleague and friend. I still remember his welcoming, warm, and assuring words when I first met him in the hallway of Chryst right before the fall semester I started teaching at MU. Over the years, I’ve had the honor to serve on the Writing Studies Committee together with Bill, to participate in the Literary Festival he organized, and to chat with him about life, teaching, and news stories about China. It’s been a great pleasure to work with Bill!

Several years ago, Bill and Robin kindly invited my husband and me to celebrate Thanksgiving at their house. It was truly a fun celebration, and Bill and Robin were the best hosts! My husband, who is not very sociable and kind of reluctant to meet with new people, enjoyed the conversations with Bill so much that he still remembers Bill as one of the nicest persons he met!

Bill, all the best for a happy retirement! We’ll miss you!


Bill has been our Writing Center director forever.  Literally since the beginning of this century.  I’ve been here twenty years, and I can’t remember before Bill. I’ve checked in photos in the archives… he appears there too.  Hmmm…..

You have always been the Caretaker. I should know, Sir; I’ve always been here.

What will we do without him?  It seems vastly unjust that he doesn’t get to drop the mic, and walk out of the Writing Center and McNairy Library with the announcement blaring “Bill Archibald has left the building.”

While Bill is an outstanding colleague, he makes an even better friend. Bill’s generous and kind spirit has always been one that drew me into animated conversations and thoughtful reminiscences about obscure films we had both over analyzed. Plus Bill gives the best hugs; he owns the distinction of giving me the most wonderful hugs on Millersville campus, and I hope he’ll travel back to give me a few more after his retirement.

I will miss Bill tremendously.  Bill, you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.


Bill Archibald has a profound sensitivity for understanding our world in images, writing, and oratory. He has a keen eye for spotting nuances in everyday life. He speaks with emotional depth with mercurial moments of dry wit and humor. In class, we are shown what makes great works powerful, and how we can practically emulate that in our own work. He offers authentic criticism without the fluff and is not afraid to challenge your thinking. With a warm presence in the office, he is always happy to share his knowledge and passion with you. Bringing together a community of writers is important to him, which is why he has dedicated himself to organizing the MU Literary Festival for the past two years. This has been his heart and soul poured out, exuberantly, and the only way he does this work, and should be proud of that. He sees the value in giving young writers a support network of inspiring professionals. Happy Retirement, Bill. Stay in touch!

Skyler Gibbon

Bill at the Lit Fest

Bill Archibald saved me from a life of academic writing. I should say, he saved me from a life of just academic writing. Thanks to Bill, I learned to see myself as a poet again, as a creative writer. Bill taught me that the scholarly prose we’ve been trained to produce can also be a jumping off point into more pleasant waters. Just as it’s been for me, I suspect it’s been the same for Bill’s students. He has helped so many write their better selves.

Thank you, Bill, and all the best to you in your retirement. Diplodocus!

Justin Mando

As you go forward in this tapestry called life you’re lucky to find a dozen people who you can call really good friends. Those who will listen to your dreams and nudge you forward. Those who you can tell secrets and trust that they stay secrets. Finally, a friend that will call you a dumbs when the need arises.

I found that kind of friend in Bill Archibald.

I didn’t know Bill the first year or two when I started at Millersville some 20 years ago. But we talked shop in the hallways, had lunch now and then and after a while Cindy and I got to know Robin and the four of us went out to dinner occasionally (even a Jackson Brown concert in Hershey). Now it seems as if we have know each other forever.

Bill represents what I would like to see more of in the English department. Knowledge of co-workers at more than just a surface level. People you can bounce ideas off of that will make you a better teacher or researcher. Friends you care about and who care about you.

I will miss that Hemingwayesque dude who owns Chryst 109 and the Writing Center, but I will make an effort to keep in touch, as I’m sure he will too.

Be well my friend,

Alan Foster

I have worked with Dr. Archibald during the 20-19-2020 school year through spending part of my Graduate Assistant hours in the Writing Center. I have appreciated his welcoming me into the work environment there, as well as his willingness to answer my questions. I would like to thank him for the opportunity to learn new skills through that work. Also, I wish him well in his upcoming retirement.

Clark Fennimore

Some of my favorite memories with Bill have been made across the dinner table. From my first visit to Lancaster, when he and his wife Robin joined us at a candidate dinner, to his surprise New Year’s Eve birthday dinner, complete with a tremendous chocolate cake and a barbershop quartet, Bill’s been the kind of colleague who’s made me feel welcomed and brought us all a bit closer together. Cheers to you on your retirement, Bill! Even though you’ve retired, know that we expect to see you for many more dinners!

Emily Baldys

Hi, Bill,

What’s the good word?  I miss hearing your footsteps, especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays around 11:15 a.m. when you scrabbled at the door of my second-floor office in Chryst and entered with a handshake.

I’d gladly lay down my pen and listen as you regaled me about getting up early to write, or ask whether I had read the Sunday Book Review and reveal you had already ordered that hot new novel, or talk about the biography you were listening to on Audible.  In return, I’d confess that I’d only written half a page of poetry in the past week, that I’d read the Review but likely would not read the novel until it came out in paperback AND I could find a used copy, or that with my hour-long commute getting Audible really would be a good idea—though first, I would have to fix the short in my car’s radio speakers.

The world grew kinder and worries withdrew for those 15 or 20 minutes.  “Noodles next Thursday?” you’d ask, scheduling a dash to Pho Pasteur up on Columbia Avenue.  “Now we have something to look up to forward to.”

Jeff and Bill at the 2018 Literary Festival

You’d slap your knees and get up, mentioning the meeting you had to go to or the pizzas you had ordered for your Writing Center tutors, and despite a second handshake I was sorry to let you go, listening as you stopped by the offices of Tim, Justin, and Carla to share a few words and a several laughs with each.  After you went back downstairs, it would take several more minutes to turn my attention back to my pile of ENGL 110 papers.

Hard to believe, that was just a few weeks ago, or that the last time I saw you was in a Giant Supermarket parking lot in Buck, where you drove down and I drove up so I could give you and Robin some Fish-Mox antibiotic capsules for your cat, Sophie.  “I got the drugs!” I joked, and we reached across the six feet that separated our cars.  Even that meeting seems swaddled in the indeterminate past, insulated from the present by all the subsequent days stuck at home since the campus shut down.

I know you are scheduled to teach online this summer, but it seems wrong that you should spend the last few weeks of our Spring 2020 so far from your English Department friends.  Emails and Zoom don’t fill the gap.  Earlier this semester, Justin and I talked about setting up one last Faculty Reading in the Writing Center and also making it a “Thanks, Bill!” occasion.  Now, that won’t happen.  It’s a cruel twist that Covid-19 prevents us from saying goodbye properly.

But what am I saying?  It won be long until we see each other again.  I can drive up, and even if we don’t shake hands, perhaps we can bump elbows.  We’ll go for noodles, then a visit to Winding Way or Dog Star Books, each exiting with a stack of paperbacks, each complaining that our homes are already full of books, and “Where am I going to put all these?”  Sooner or later, the campus will open again, and perhaps some late morning I’ll hear your footsteps on the stairs, and you will enter with a joke before we sit down and talk of writing and reading and gardening, and food—and “How’s life treating you?”

I look forward to that, my friend.

Jeff Boyer

I have nothing either profound or deep to say about Dr. Archibald, and not even anything terribly academic. To say that I am a non-traditional student is pushing the non-traditional student envelop a bit far. Be that as it may, the first day of my duties in the department of English office as graduate assistant, I was sitting there simply reading. A rather tall distinguished looking man walks in: What are you reading? Me: Derrida’s De la grammatologie, he’s even more obtuse in French. The distinguished looking gentleman extends his hand: Bill Archibald.

After that point I had the good fortune to talk with Bill many times about literature, and also to apologize to him for his tales of traveling through Kansas by car. If one is from Kansas, one automatically apologizes for the vast monotony of traversing the state through some other means other than an airplane.

I will always cherish those moments of discussing nothing more than what I was reading that day, or literature in a larger context. Bill Archibald is a true academician. Dr. Archibald, thank you!

William Artz