William R. Muth, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus, Teaching and Learning

William R. Muth, Ph.D.


  • Ph.D. in education, George Mason University
  • M.A. in early childhood special education, The George Washington University
  • B.A. in special education, University of Maryland

Research interests

Literacy, adult learning and intergenerational relationships from multiple perspectives, including sociocultural, phenomenological, post structural and critical approaches to prison-based literacy and learning. Of special interest are art-literacy experiences (like mural making) that help build relationships and family biographies, humanize public spaces and value the lived experiences of incarcerated parents and their children.

Career highlights

  • Founding co-editor of the Journal of Prison Education and Reentry
  • Two-time winner of the Charles P. Ruch Award for Excellence in Teaching
  • Co-founder of the curriculum, culture and change track of the VCU Ph.D. in education program
  • College Reading Association’s Dissertation of the Year Award winner

Recent publications/projectsCover of Dr. William Muth's 2018 Book

Dr. Bill Muth advocates for families separated by prison, and serves on the Board of Directors for Hope House, a non-profit organization that helps families separated by prison to remain connected through literacy projects, video conferencing, summer camps and other activities. Examples of his publications related to Hope House literacy projects, the experiences of incarcerated fathers and family reentry include:

  • Muth, W.R. (2018). Fathers, Prisons, and Family Reentry: Presencing as a Framework and Method. Lanham, Md: Lexington Books.
  • Muth, W. R. , Walker, G. & Casad, S. J. (2014). The presence of time in the lived experiences of prisoners: Implications for literacy workers. Journal of Correctional Education, 65, 2-11.
  • Muth, W. R. & Walker, G. (2013). Looking up: The temporal horizons of a father in prison. Fathering: A Journal of Theory, Research, and Practice about Men, 11, 292-305.
  • Muth, W. R. (2011). Murals as text: A social-cultural perspective on family literacy events in U.S. Prisons. Ethnography and Education, 6, 245-263.


Muth began his career as an early elementary special education teacher in 1975 before moving to Barbados, W.I., to help the Ministry of Education set up their first special education school. From 1980–2005, he worked for the Federal Bureau of Prisons as a reading teacher, ABE coordinator, school principal and chief of program analysis. From 2000-05, he was education administrator for the bureau, responsible for staffing, professional development, policies and budgets for the academic, occupational/vocational, parenting, ESOL, wellness and recreation programs nationwide.

Muth joined VCU in the fall of 2005, where he has served as chair of the Research and Professional Development Committee, president of the faculty organization, coordinator of the curriculum, culture and change track in the Ph.D. program and co-administrator of the online adult literacy certificate program.

Outside of VCU, Muth co-founded the Adult Literacy Research Study Group for the Literacy Research Association, co-founded and co-edits the Journal of Prison Education and Reentry, and serves on the Board of Directors of Hope House.

After 16 years with VCU, Muth retired from the School of Education in 2021. He continues to serve the university and the broader Richmond community through his activism and volunteerism.

Curriculum Vitae

(804) 828-8768