Former CMU history professor remembered for lecture series, enthusiasm for teaching

William Thomas Bulger, Jr., a former Central Michigan University professor emeritus of history, died Feb. 16 at the age of 85.

Bulger, a former early American history professor, is remembered on CMU's campus by former colleagues and students through the Bulger Lecture Series and William T. Bulger History Endowment, named after the professor after decades of contributions to the history department. Bulger taught at CMU from 1957 to 1992 before retiring.

Bulger, a Flint native, attended Kenyon College in Ohio, for his undergraduate studies before he studied at the University of Michigan, where he received a Master of Arts and Ph.D in History. Bulger began teaching at Ohio State University in 1955 before arriving at CMU.

History Department Chairman Tim Hall is in charge of the Bulger Lecture Series, and said he remembered Bulger for his passion for his students. Hall said after meeting some of Bulger's former students throughout the state, many of them still remembered stories about their former history professor.

"Everywhere I go, when I meet a student who had Bill Bulger, they always ask about him and have a story about him, because he was really well known as a story teller and could get students really excited about history," Hall said. "He took a real special interest in his students."

Hall said Bulger's passion for helping his students and respect from his colleagues are a testament to his character.

"There was a story about one of our alumni who was planning on studying abroad but had to take a test, and apparently Bill actually got him up and took him to the test," Hall said. "Since he took that test, it qualified him for a study abroad program at Cambridge and really jump-started his career."

History Professor David Macleod said Bulger was very enthusiastic as a teacher and befriended many students over the years. Macleod said the lecture series is a biography series, because Bulger was particularly interested in history as a narrative.

"His speciality was colonial and revolutionary American history," Macleod said. "He was always extremely good-humored, even about grading exams, and was a very friendly and cooperative member of the department"