History - In the Beginning

(Excerpted, condensed, and adapted from Raymond H. Thompson, "Anthropology at the University of Arizona, 1893-2005," Journal of the Southwest, Autumn 2005, 47(3): 327-347)

Anthropology at the University of Arizona began in 1915 with the appointment of Byron Cummings as Professor of Archaeology and Director of the Arizona State Museum. He came to Arizona from his position as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Utah. He had received his B.A. from Rutgers University in 1889 and his M.A. there in 1892. Cummings served Utah as Professor of Greek and Latin, Head of the Department of Archaeology, and for many years as Dean of Men and briefly as Dean of the College of Medicine. He played an important role in the life of the University of Utah, even organizing its first football team the first year he was there. The football stadium at Utah is named Cummings Field in his honor.

The 54-year-old Cummings left Utah after 22 years of distinguished service at the oldest university in the Far West to throw in with one of the newest in the West. In 1915, the University of Arizona community consisted of 70 faculty members and 463 students, and there were 24,045 books in the University Library. Arizona had become a state only three years before and the population of Tucson, still the largest city in Arizona, was about 15,000. When Cummings arrived on campus, University President von KleinSmid took him to an overflowing storage area, opened the door, and said something like, "Here's the museum, go to it!"

Cummings was vigorous in responding and quickly made the University of Arizona a center for archaeology. In 1928, three of his students, Clara Lee Fraps (Tanner), Florence M. Hawley (Ellis), and Emil W. Haury, received the first M.A. degrees in archaeology awarded by the University. They all stayed at Arizona as Instructors in Archaeology with academic-year salaries of $1500. Florence eventually entered graduate study at the University of Chicago where she earned her doctorate in 1934, using her excavations at Chetro Ketl in Chaco Canyon for her dissertation. She obtained a position at the University of New Mexico, where she spent 37 years as an inspiring and beloved teacher and continued an active professional life until her death in 1991 at age 84.

Emil stayed at the University for one year to study dendrochronology with A. E. Douglass and then went to Globe to work with Harold S. Gladwin at the Gila Pueblo Archaeological Foundation. He earned a doctorate under Roland B. Dixon at Harvard University in 1934 and returned to the University of Arizona in 1937 to replace Cummings who retired in 1938. Clara Lee remained at the University of Arizona where she inspired and nurtured several generations of students during a full half-century of dedicated service on the faculty of the Department of Anthropology.

Haury and the Department of Anthropology

In 1937, Cummings at age 75 stepped down as Head of the Department of Archaeology and his 33-year-old former student, Emil Haury, took over. One of Haury's first acts as Department Head was to ratify the breadth that Cummings had been developing in the Department of Archaeology by changing the name to the Department of Anthropology. Though Cummings worked diligently during his 22 years to establish a "program in anthropology," full success eluded him, in part because of the severe financial problems of the Depression that plagued the final years of his tenure. Haury first made the argument in 1937-38 that a doctoral program was not possible without a larger faculty, much improved library holdings, and better equipment. To accelerate that change to include social anthropology and applied anthropology, he hired Edward H. Spicer in 1939, and Spicer provided leadership for the broadened ethnology field until his retirement in 1978. It took a full decade of building these resources and adding personnel before Haury was willing and able to expand the graduate program to include the doctorate degree in 1948-49. The first two doctorates were awarded to Charles C. Di Peso and Joe Ben Wheat in 1953.

In the related areas of curriculum and faculty development, Haury made gains, but progress was slow. In biological anthropology, John Provinse left the year before Haury became Head, and Haury immediately replaced him with Norman E. Gabel and biological anthropology became a permanent part of the curriculum from then on. There was considerable turnover in personnel until 1958-59 when Haury convinced Frederick S. Hulse to leave the University of Washington and provide Arizona with the vigorous leadership that the biological anthropology subfield needed.

Establishing linguistics proved to be much more difficult. Haury was unable to follow-up on the early courses offered by T. T. Waterman in 1927-28 until 1939-40 when he enlisted the assistance of William Kurath of the German Department, who was collaborating with Spicer on the study of the O'Odham language. Kurath's death in 1949 led to a series of short-term solutions that continued to depend on colleagues in the German and French departments. It was not until 1960-61 that Haury could stabilize the linguistics program by hiring Edward P. Dozier to set the tone for future growth in the subfield.

Haury promoted the importance of applied anthropology from the beginning and in 1952 assisted William H. Kelly in founding the Bureau of Ethnic Research, now the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology. In 1940-41, he noted the need for training in museology, but it was fourteen years before the first course in museum studies was offered in 1953-54 by archaeologist E. B. Danson, who resigned at the end of the 1955-56 academic year to become Director of the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff. Another decade was to pass before museum studies became a regular part of the curriculum.

Haury fostered the already strong ties with the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research. In 1952-53 he obtained a grant from the Research Corporation to build the Radiocarbon Laboratory. He contributed directly to the Development of the Geochronology Laboratories, the Arid Lands Program, and the University of Arizona Press. One of the first efforts of the University Press involved the establishment of the Anthropological Papers of the University of Arizona series, the 71st volume of which should be published during 2007. Many of these publications (almost a third) are based on master's theses and doctoral dissertations submitted to the Department.

Haury commented as early as 1938-39 on the need for a permanent field training facility in archaeology, but it was not until after World War II when he was able to establish the camp at Point of Pines that served as the site for the Archaeological Field School for 15 years. In 1963, Raymond H. Thompson moved the Field School to Grasshopper on the Ft. Apache Reservation where it remained for almost three decades, directed in succession by William A. Longacre and J. Jefferson Reid. Subsequently, the Field School was located in Sitgreaves National Forest near Pinedale, Arizona, and was directed by Barbara J. Mills.

When Haury turned the Department over to its third Head, Raymond H. Thompson, in 1964-65, he had the satisfaction of having presided over the conversion of the well-known but fledgling "program in anthropology" that Cummings had turned over to him 27 years earlier into a fully developed Department of Anthropology of national stature (see Rankings below). Whereas Haury and Cummings had to work in a world of shortages, Thompson was faced with a different problem, the management of abundance.
 

Thompson and the Department of Anthropology

The explosive growth in American higher education peaked during the late sixties and early seventies. The impact on the Department was dramatic. For several years enrollment grew at the rate of more than 40 percent per semester, creating massive problems involving space, faculty, teaching assistants, student support, and the local social organization of the Department. When the new University Library was under construction, Thompson arranged for the Arizona State Museum to take over the existing University Library building across the mall to the north from the 1935 Museum Building. This arrangement included the commitment of that building for Anthropology when the Museum moved out. Unfortunately, delays in the appropriation of renovation funds had slowed full implementation of that plan. Nevertheless, this plan guaranteed continued close geographic proximity for the Department and the Museum when the administration of the two units was separated in 1980.

Thompson took advantage of the growth to increase the role of women in the Department. Following the tradition of collaboration with other university units, he joined forces with the College of Nursing to obtain federal funds to help nurses earn anthropology doctorates, thereby rapidly increasing the number of women entering the job market. During his tenure, Anthropology set the pace for the Social Sciences at Arizona in hiring, retaining, and promoting women faculty members.

Haury had been able to address the needs of American Indian students by convincing the Board of Regents to establish scholarships for Indians and by assigning Harry T. Getty the responsibility of serving as an academic advisor to Indian students. However, it was during Thompson's headship that Anthropology became the seed bed for the development of specific University programs for American Indians: the Indian Student Advisor, the Coordinator of Indian Programs, and eventually American Indian Studies. Anthropology was also involved in the early stages of the development of Africana Studies and Mexican-American Studies at Arizona.

The Department of Anthropology and the Museum shared various homes on campus until 1962 when the Anthropology Building (now the Emil W. Haury Anthropology Building) was completed. Connected to the south end of the Museum, it was one of the few buildings on campus to boast a fourth story, courtesy of the National Science Foundation. It was the first building at any American university to be planned from the start for the exclusive use of an Anthropology Department. In 1977 the Museum began a long, slow move to the old Library Building across the mall to the north. The Library, built between 1924 and 1927, was completed while Cummings was serving as President of the University, and he presided over the dedication ceremony. Today that fine building is being converted, unfortunately all too gradually, into a home for the Museum, which will release badly needed space in the 1935 Museum building for the Department of Anthropology.
 

1980 Onward

Cummings, Haury, and Thompson all served not only as Head of the Department of Anthropology but also as Director of the Arizona State Museum. Careful management of the resources of both units provided great stability and strength for the larger anthropological community at the University of Arizona. As both the Department and the Museum grew in size and complexity, so did the administrative burden. Haury recognized this problem as early as 1954-55 when he suggested that the separation of the administration of the Department and the Museum should take place "within the next few years." In 1980 Thompson stepped down at the end of sixteen years as Department Head, but continued as Director of the Museum. William A. Stini, a biological anthropologist, became the fourth Head of the Department and he and Thompson developed the policies, attitudes, and mechanisms that continued the long-standing cooperative and supportive relationships between the Department and the Museum into the new independent administrative environment.

William Stini assumed the leadership role during a period of declining resources and at the time of a major change in University administration. He successfully defended the resource base, continued the expansion of the faculty, developed computer facilities for both faculty and students, recruited new leadership for the Bureau of Ethnic Research, which became the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology, and facilitated the establishment of the Laboratory of Traditional Technology. A biological anthropologist, Stini is the only non-archaeologist to serve as Head. He forged strong ties in both teaching and research with several departments in the College of Medicine, fostered the development of a strong program in medical anthropology, and spearheaded the establishment of a University program in gerontology. He also worked closely with the College of Engineering and its Department of Materials Science and Engineering in the development of the cooperative Culture, Science, and Technology Program. Stini relinquished the headship in order to continue his research and writing.

William A. Longacre, a member of the faculty since 1964, became the fifth Head of the Department in 1989. An archaeologist and former Director of the Archaeological Field School, he began his tenure by launching a series of activities celebrating the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Department.

These activities reinvigorated the Department, increased its resource base, established new ties to its alumni, reaffirmed and enhanced its status within the University, and created new energy and momentum for the years ahead. He continued the process initiated by Thompson and Stini by overseeing the hiring of a number of key faculty appointments. Under his leadership, younger scholars in sociocultural anthropology, archaeology, and linguistics joined the faculty, several of them women and minorities who have added strength to anthropology at Arizona. The joint Ph.D. program in Linguistics and Anthropology is one result.

John W. Olsen assumed the departmental Headship in July 1998, having previously served as Acting Head in 1994-95 during Dr. Longacre's sabbatical year abroad. Olsen joined the University of Arizona faculty as Assistant Professor in 1982, after receiving his Ph.D. at the University of California Berkeley in 1980 and pursuing postdoctoral training and research in England and China.

An Old World prehistorian by training, Olsen has devoted his career to the understanding of early Stone Age adaptations in the arid lands of Central Asia and China. Currently co-director of the Joint Mongolian-Russian-American Archaeological Expeditions and the Zhoukoudian International Paleoanthropological Research Center, Olsen's research agenda includes continued Paleolithic field studies in Mongolia as well as in Tibet, Siberia, and several of the newly independent Central Asian republics.

In his role as Department Head, Olsen stressed the importance of reconfiguring anthropology in the 21st century. In particular, he shared the faculty's belief that an integrated, synergistic approach to teaching, minimizing the methodological and theoretical distinctions among anthropology's traditional subdisciplines, is the most effective way to prepare students for careers in anthropology and to invigorate future directions in anthropological research. He stepped down as Head of the Department of Anthropology in 2008 to focus on his research and teaching.
 

“Transformation Plan” and the School of Anthropology

In 2008 Barbara J. Mills became the seventh department head and the first woman to serve in that role. She came to the University of Arizona in 1991 as an Assistant Professor to take on the directorship of the University of Arizona Archaeological Field School. For 12 years she directed excavations and survey in east-central Arizona and established the Silver Creek Archaeological Research Project. Her research specialties include Southwest archaeology, ceramic analysis, archaeologies of inequality, migration, identity, and social memory. In addition to the Southwest she has participated in archaeological projects in Guatemala, Kazakhstan, and Turkey. Mills is currently lead PI on a large-scale NSF-funded project to incorporate ceramic and obsidian data into a macroregional database and is applying social network analysis to understand change over the period AD 1200-1550. She is active in national service and now serves as Secretary of the Society of American Archaeology.

The fall 2008 coincided not only with a downturn in Arizona's economy, but with announcement of the University of Arizona “Transformation Plan.” For many departments on campus, the UA Transformation Plan opened the door to discussion about strengthening bonds with related units through reorganization. Mills spearheaded a plan with heads and directors of the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA), Arizona State Museum (ASM), and Department of Classics to bring together faculty and programs with common interests in anthropology. Like many other proposals at the University of Arizona, a school structure was chosen because of its flexibility—it allows a diversity of programs, encourages interdisciplinarity, and can retain unit identities. After several white papers, administrative backing, and Faculty Senate and Arizona Board of Regents approval, the School of Anthropology at the University of Arizona was established in July 2009 and Barbara Mills was appointed Director.

The School of Anthropology currently has 49 voting faculty in five divisions: applied anthropology/BARA, archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and sociocultural anthropology. By bringing previously divided programs under a larger organizational unit, more collaboration among scholars sharing similar methods and theoretical perspectives has been enhanced and more cohesive student programs result. Several cross-cutting themes that constitute minors in the School help to integrate the divisions. Four current themes within the School of Anthropology include (1) ecological and evolutionary anthropology, (2) global health disparities, (3) applied development and public policy studies, and (4) the anthropology of history and social memory. The themes happily coincide with interdisciplinary projects in several of areas of the university’s Strategic Plan.

When Raymond Thompson stepped down as Director of the Arizona State Museum in 1997, George J. Gumerman, who earned his doctorate from the Department in 1969, became Director. The spirit of cooperation continues with new interactive arrangements among the Department, the Museum, the Southwest Center directed by Joseph C. Wilder, and other units on campus and with a renewed emphasis on Southwestern studies. Hartman Lomawaima succeeded Gumerman as Director of the Arizona State Museum until his untimely death in 2008. His Associate Director, Beth Grindell, was appointed Director. Grindell earned her doctorate from the Department of Anthropology in 1998 with a focus on Near Eastern archaeology and has been on the staff of the Arizona State Museum since 1993.

In the first national ranking of graduate departments of anthropology by the American Council on Education in 1966 and again in 1971, Arizona was ranked 12th. In 1983 and again in 1995 Arizona ranked fifth in a survey published by the National Academy of Sciences. A survey conducted under the auspices of the Society for American Archaeology and published in the SAA Bulletin in 1993 ranked the Archaeology doctoral program at the University of Arizona second in the nation. These rankings show that Anthropology at the University of Arizona, which had become one of the top ten producers of doctorates in the 1960s, is one of the premier graduate programs in the nation qualitatively as well as quantitatively.

Faculty Recognition

Throughout the School's history, many members of the faculty have gained international and national recognition for their work. Emil Haury, C. Vance Haynes, Frederick S. Hulse, Robert McC. Netting, and Edward H. Spicer were elected to the National Academy of Sciences on the basis of work done at the University of Arizona. W. David Kingery was a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and in 1998 he received the first W. David Kingery Prize (named in his honor) awarded by the American Ceramic Society. In 1999 he received the prestigious Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology from the Inamori Foundation in Japan. Both Haury and Spicer were made members of the American Philosophical Society, the nation's oldest academy founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743. Haury and Jane Hill received the Viking Fund Medal from the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the Haury received the Alfred Vincent Kidder Award from the American Anthropological Association. Haury and Raymond Thompson received the Service Award of the Secretary of the Interior, one of the highest awards the United States government can give to a private citizen. William Longacre received the first Society for American Archaeology Excellence in Ceramics Research Award in 1991 and he was elected an Honorary Member of the American Ceramic Society in 1997. In 1998, John Olsen was named an Academician of the Mongolian Academy of Humanitarian Sciences in Ulaanbaatar, an honor thus far accorded to fewer than a dozen foreign scholars. Olsen is also a recipient of the Burlington Northern Foundation's award for faculty commitment to undergraduate education. Thomas Weaver was awarded the Robert McC. Netting Prize in Political Ecology from the Society for Applied Anthropology in 1998 and the Bronislaw Malinowski Prize from the Society for Applied Anthropology in 2009.

J. S. Guggenheim Fellowships were awarded to Ned Spicer in 1941 and 1955, Emil Haury in 1949, Bert Kraus in 1951, Ed Dozier in 1967, Bob Netting in 1970, C. Vance Haynes in 1980, Arthur J. Jelinek in 1987, and Ellen B. Basso in 2002. William Rathje received the American Association for the Advancement of Science Westinghouse Award for Public Understanding of Science & Technology in 1991, and in 1992 he was given the Solon T. Kimball Award for Public and Applied Anthropology by the American Anthropological Association. Kingery (in 1984) and Jane Hill (in 1998) became Elected Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Haynes received the AMQUA Distinguished Career Award from the American Quaternary Association in 2002. Mark Nichter received the Margaret Mead Award from the American Anthropological Association in 1989 and Mimi Nichter received the same award in 2001. J. Stephen Lansing was elected a member of the external faculty of the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico. T. J. Ferguson became the second member of the faculty to win the Solon T. Kimball Award in 2006. Jane Hill received the Franz Boas Award for Exemplary Service to Anthropology from the American Anthropological Association in 2009, the same year that she received the Koffler Prize from the University of Arizona.
 

Faculty in the School of Anthropology have served as Presidents of the discipline’s most recognized national organizations, including:

  • The American Anthropological Association: Emil Haury, Edward H. Spicer, and Jane Hill
  • The Society for American Archaeology: Emil Haury, Raymond Thompson, and Richard B. Woodbury
  • The Society for Applied Anthropology:  Theodore E. Downing and Thomas Weaver
  • The Association of Latina and Latino Anthropologists: Thomas Weaver (first president and founder)
  • The American Association of Physical Anthropologists: Frederick S. Hulse and William Stini
  • The American Ethnological Society: Ellen B. Basso
  • The Society for Medical Anthropology: Mark Nichter
  • The Society for the Study of Indigenous Languages of the Americas: Jane Hill
  • The Society for Linguistic Anthropology: Norma Mendoza-Denton

Our faculty have also served as editors or on editorial boards of major anthropological journals and publications.

Publications by numerous faculty have received national awards including the Society for American Archaeology Book Award to Mary Stiner and the Association of Borderlands Studies Past Presidents’ Book Award to Thomas E. Sheridan. J. Stephen Lansing has won both the Staley Prize and the Julian Steward Book Award. Two faculty have won the Gordon Willey Prize from the Archaeology Division of the American Anthropological Association: Barbara Mills (2006) and T. J. Ferguson (2009).

The Department of Anthropology was the first unit in the University to have an endowed professorship, the Fred A. Riecker Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, held first by Haury, then by Raymond Thompson, then by William Longacre, followed by Michael Brian Schiffer. Haynes and Netting were appointed Regents' Professors during the 75th anniversary year, and Jane Hill became a Regents’ Professor in 1995, John Olsen in 2005, and Mark Nichter in 2006. Two of the Mediterranean archaeologists who are now in the School of Anthropology are Regents’ Professors: David Soren and Richard Wilkinson.

The University of Arizona has honored many Anthropology faculty members for their teaching skills (Hermann K. Bleibtreu, Emil Haury, Arthur J. Jelinek, James E. Officer, John W. Olsen, Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman, Jennifer Roth-Gordon, Spicer, Raymond H. Thompson). J. Jefferson Reid was made a University Distinguished Professor in 2007 based on his teaching and mentorship. In 2009 the Department was awarded the Provost’s Award for Meritorious Departmental Achievement in Undergraduate Instruction.

The faculty have taught many thousands of students and as of July 2006 awarded 4,140 degrees: 2,700 B.A. degrees, 1,100 M.A. degrees, and 340 Ph.D. degrees. A number of the B.A. and M.A. graduates have earned doctorates in Anthropology and related disciplines at universities all over the country. According to a survey made in 1991, the Department's Ph.D. graduates had taken positions in academic departments (62 %), museums (10%), government agencies (11%), national and international organizations (1%), and the private sector (15%). Whatever their positions, they continue to extend the influence of the University of Arizona program in anthropology far and wide and they have sent many young people to Tucson to prepare themselves to carry on the Arizona tradition.

Staff Recognition

In 2002 the Department of Anthropology Staff received the Outstanding Staff Team Award from the University of Arizona and from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. These awards were in recognition of their successful efforts in creating and administering the "Traditions, Transitions, Treasures" silent and live anthropology auction, an endeavor that raised over $30,000 for the Scholarship Fund of the Anthropology Department. Several individual staff members have also received recognition.

Current Employees: 

  • Ben Beshaw, Accountant, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Classified Staff Member in 2010.
  • Charla Dain, Administrative Assistant, University of Arizona and College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Staff Team Awards in 2002.
  • Catherine Lehman, Administrative Associate, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Classified Staff Member in 2009.
  • Veronica Peralta, Senior Business Manager, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Classified Staff Member in 2012, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Dean's Award for Excellence in 2008.
  • Ann Samuelson, Academic Advisor, University of Arizona Outstanding Professional Advisor finalist in 2014

Previous Employees:

  • Eddie Caratachea, Business Manager, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Dean's Excellence Award in 2014.
  • Norma C. Maynard, Manager of Administration (Retired), University of Arizona and College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Staff Team Awards in 2002; University of Arizona Staff Award for Excellence in 1997; College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Classified Staff Member in 1995; Apple Award - Top Ten Faculty, Pima Community College, East Campus in 1982 and 1983.
  • Barbara A. Fregoso, Administrative Associate (Retired), College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Classified Staff Member 1994 and 2007, University of Arizona and College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Staff Team Awards in 2002.
  • Carol Gifford, Editor (Retired), The Raymond H. Thompson Award in 2014, University of Arizona and College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Staff Team Awards in 2002, Anthropological Papers of the University of Arizona, Victor R. Stoner Award of the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society 1998; College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Classified Staff Member 1999.
  • Dirk Harris, Senior Systems Support Analyst, University of Arizona and College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Staff Team Awards in 2002, University of Arizona Staff Award for Excellence 2001.
  • Maria Rodriguez, Senior Business Manager (Retired), BARA, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Classified Staff Member 2012.
  • Catherine Snider, Associate Accountant, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Classified Staff Member 2011, University of Arizona and College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Staff Team Awards in 2002.
  • Ellen Stamp, Business Manager (Retired), University of Arizonaand College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Staff Team Awards in 2002, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Classified Staff Member 1998 and 2002.
  • Mary Stephenson, Administrative Secretary (Retired), University of Arizona and College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Staff Team Awards in 2002.
  • Diana Vidal, Senior Academic Advisor (Retired), University of Arizona and College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Staff Team Awards in 2002.