Ernest W. Sullivan, the Edward S. Diggs Professor of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the title of “Edward S. Diggs Professor Emeritus” by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The title of emeritus may be conferred on retired professors and associate professors, administrative officers, librarians, and exceptional staff members who are specially recommended to the board of visitors by Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger. Nominated individuals who are approved by the board of visitors receive an emeritus certificate from the university.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1994, Sullivan placed strong emphasis on student learning excellence in critical thinking as a teacher of undergraduate courses.

He wrote four books, co-authored eight more, and wrote more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, encyclopedia articles, and reviews. Some of these works have been reprinted in Japanese and Polish. In addition, Sullivan was principal or co-principal investigator on grants funding the production of critical editions of the works of Early Modern English authors including those on John Donne and Abraham Cowley.

Sullivan also co-founded the Thomas L. Gravell internet watermark database to assist in dating literature based on the watermark on the paper. 

He explains that “watermarks are similar to DNA. By identifying the watermark on the paper, one can determine its date. Once the date is determined, then the researcher can determine the oldest copy, which should be a more accurate representation of the original than subsequent copies.”

Sullivan also served on proposal review panels for the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Council of Learned Societies, American Philosophical Society, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

He has held membership in 17 learned societies, including election twice to the Modern Language Association Delegate Assembly, Renaissance English Text Society, Joseph Conrad Society, Milton Society of America, Early Book Society, and Renaissance Society of America. He served as president of the John Donne Society.

Sullivan received his bachelor’s degree and doctoral degree from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.