Anita West Moss, 74, professor of English, died Wednesday, April 11 following a brief illness. Described as an avid reader, lover of fine film and theater, enlightened conversationalist, and progressive intellectual, Moss joined UNC Charlotte’s Department of English in 1972 and continued teaching until a week before her death.
On Sunday, April 15, 2018, over 125 of her family members, friends, colleagues, and students gathered to celebrate her life, describing how she encouraged and helped others. Among those sharing their memories of Moss was Mark West, professor and chair of the Department of English.
West first met Moss at a Children’s Literature Association conference in 1980 when he was a graduate student. The two stayed in touch, and when a children’s literature faculty position came open at UNC Charlotte in 1984, she encouraged him to apply. He later learned that she had championed him among her colleagues.
“After I started my career in our English Department, Anita helped me develop my classes and mentored me as I pursued my scholarly career,” West wrote in his Monday Missive column. “At the time, she was the North American Editor for Children’s Literature in Education. I had just finished an article about Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, and she encouraged me to submit it to Children’s Literature in Education. After a few rounds of revisions, Anita accepted the article for publication. The success I had with this article eventually led me to write an entire book on Roald Dahl. None of this would have happened without Anita’s help and encouragement.”
West also credits Moss with helping him make connections with literacy advocates in the community. “Early in my career, she introduced me to various people associated with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library, and this resulted in my longstanding collaborative relationship with the public library,” he wrote. “To this very day, I work with the public library on festivals, talks, and various other activities. It all started with Anita.”
After joining the university in 1972 as a lecturer, Moss took a leave from the University during the 1976-77 academic year to complete a doctoral degree in English from Indiana University. In 1979, she was appointed an assistant professor. In 1983, she was promoted to associate professor, and in 1989, she was promoted to full professor. In 1990, she was appointed director of composition, a position she held for several years.
A National Endowment for the Humanities grant in 1987 provided funding for “The Teaching of Literature, Writing and Critical Thinking,” enabling Moss to organize a series of workshops and seminars for teachers in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, influencing the reading and writing curriculum in the schools.
She received the NCNB Teaching Award, now called the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence, in 1988. This award is one of the most important and prestigious traditions at UNC Charlotte, honoring outstanding teachers who embody the University’s commitment to excellence in teaching.
Moss served as the North American editor of Children’s Literature in Education from 1982 to 1996. She was co-editor of “The Family of Stories: An Anthology of Children’s Literature,” published in 1986 by Holt, Rinehart and Winston.