Dorothy J. McGinnis obituary

contact: Jeanne Baron
| WMU News
Photo of Dr. Dorothy J. .


Dr. Dorothy J. McGinnis of Kalamazoo, nationally known for her innovations in the diagnosis and treatment of reading problems, died Jan. 11 at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo. She was 92.

Dorothy J. McGinnis

McGinnis, professor emerita of education and professional development, joined the WMU faculty in 1944 and retired early in 1986 after 41 years of service to the University. The University's McGinnis Reading Center and Clinic was dedicated to her in 1996 and renamed in her honor in recognition of her numerous contributions to the field.

The licensed consulting psychologist and Kalamazoo resident began working at WMU in 1941 while an undergraduate student, serving as a psychometrist in the Psycho-Educational Clinic. The clinic was founded by Homer J. Carter in 1932 and renamed the Reading Center and Clinic in 1970 to better reflect its emphasis on diagnostic and broad-based reading and support services.

McGinnis became a faculty member as well as associate director of the clinic in 1944 and that year, established the first college-adult reading program in Michigan along with Carter, an innovator in reading research and diagnosis. Together, they co-wrote several books on teaching reading and were pioneers in the field of reading development for adults.

She succeeded Carter as clinic director in 1964 and stayed at the helm for 11 years, further expanding clinic services to the community as well as contributing her own innovative approaches to developing reading practice and theory.

During her WMU career, McGinnis played a major role in establishing the University's master's program in the teaching of reading; founded the international professional journal Reading Horizons, serving as its editor for seven years; and was a reading consultant to schools, companies and reading organizations across the nation.

Among her many innovations was developing interdisciplinary diagnostic teams made up of professional staff members and graduate students who would conduct in-depth case studies to examine the physical, psychological, sociological and educational factors that affect learners. She also was an early advocate of the need to evaluate children's readiness to read and of supplementing reading texts with classic children's tales and good literature.

McGinnis received the WMU Alumni Association Teaching Excellence Award in 1972 and co-wrote nine texts and instructor manuals as well as numerous professional articles. She was a member of the Michigan Reading Association Board of Directors for 14 years, serving as president in 1967-68.

She also was a member of the American Psychological Association, Michigan Psychological Association, International Reading Association and Kalamazoo County Association of Retired School Personnel. After retirement, McGinnis served two years on WMU's Emeriti Council and did volunteer work at the Portage Senior Center.

She was a major donor to the University during her lifetime and named WMU as a beneficiary of her estate, with intention to fund two endowed Medallion Scholarships in memory of her parents and an endowment to support Reading Horizons. That publication, begun in 1960, is still bringing together school professionals, literacy researchers, teacher educators, parents and community leaders as they work collaboratively to widen the horizons of literacy and the language arts.

McGinnis earned a bachelor's degree from WMU in 1943, a master's degree from Ohio State University in 1948 and a doctoral degree from Michigan State University in 1963.


Visitation will begin at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16, in St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 247 W. Lovell St. in Kalamazoo and be followed by funeral services at 2 p.m. Burial will be at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, in Riverside Cemetery in Dowagiac, Mich.


Memorial gifts may be made to the WMU Foundation or the Fountains at Bronson Place. Visit to make a memorial guestbook entry.