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Faculty Profile

William Nagy

William Nagy

Emeritus Faculty; Scholar in Residence


Education: BA, Michigan State University, 1970; PhD, University of California, San Diego, 1974. At SPU 1996–2019. Emeritus since 2019.

William Nagy received his PhD in Linguistics from the University of California, San Diego in 1974. After several temporary academic positions and a year as a research assistant in the translations department of the American Bible Society, Dr. Nagy spent 18 years as a researcher at the Center for the Study of Reading at the University of Illinois. He moved from Illinois to Seattle in 1996 to work at Seattle Pacific.

Dr. Nagy teaches masters and doctoral-level courses in literacy and research methods. He is especially interested in how children learn words, how vocabulary can best be taught, what teachers can do to help English language learners, and how students’ awareness of language contributes to their reading ability. He was elected into the Reading Hall of Fame in 2009.


Teaching Word Meanings, with Steven A. Stahl

Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2006

Selected Publications

  • Nagy, W., & Scott, J. (2000). “Vocabulary Processes.” In M. Kamil, P. Mosenthal, P. D. Pearson, & R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of Reading Research, Volume III (pp. 269–284). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Nagy, W. (2009). “Understanding Words and Word Learning: Putting Research on Vocabulary Into Classroom Practice.” In S. Rosenfield & V. Berninger (Eds.), Implementing Evidence-Based Academic Interventions in School Settings (pp. 479–500). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Nagy, W., & Hiebert, E. (2011). “Toward a Theory of Word Selection.” In M. L. Kamil, P. D. Pearson, E. B. Moje, & P. P. Afflerbach (Eds.), Handbook of Reading Research, Volume IV (pp. 388–404). New York:  Routledge.
  • Nagy, W. & Townsend, D. (2012). “Words as Tools: Learning Academic Vocabulary as Language Acquisition.” Reading Research Quarterly, 47(1), 91–108.

Please view Dr. Nagy’s CV (PDF) for additional publications.