William D. Keel's primary teaching and research interests are in German dialectology, Germanic philology, the structure of Modern German, and German-American studies. He is internationally recognized as an expert on German settlement dialects (Sprachinseln) in the American Midwest and has lectured on that subject at several German universities and the Institut für deutsche Sprache in Mannheim. View his work on the Linguistic Atlas of Kansas German Dialects (LAKGD).
He is the recipient of German-American collaborative research grants from the American Council of Learned Societies and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Since 1981, he has served as editor of the Yearbook of German-American Studies and, since 1986, as a member of the executive committee of the Society for German-American Studies.
Publications include co-edited books German Emigration from Bukovina to the Americas (1996) with Kurt Rein (University of Munich) and German Language Varieties Worldwide: Internal and External Perspectives (2003) with Klaus Mattheier (University of Heidelberg) as well as and a number of articles treating Hannoverian Low German, German-Bohemian and Mennonite Low German dialects in Kansas and Missouri as well as the settlement history of Pennsylvania Germans in Kansas. His edited work on The Volga Germans of West Central Kansas was published in 2004.
He has been active in the Kansas Association of Teachers of German for a number of years, serving on the executive committee from 1994-97 and again from 2004-07. Since 1989, he has lectured in numerous communities in the region as a member of the Speakers' Bureau of the Kansas Humanities Council. Keel is the recipient of the Verdienstkreuz am Bande of the Federal Republic of Germany (1999) for his contributions to German-American educational and cultural exchanges. The KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences honored him with the Steeples Award for Outstanding Service to Kansans in 2006. From 1990 to 2011 he chaired the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures.