In 2013 Diane E. Austin became the second Director of the School of Anthropology and the eighth head of Anthropology at the University of Arizona. She came to UA in 1994 as a Research Associate in the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA). She became a Research Scientist in 1997, at which time she began directing BARA’s internship program, and then Assistant Research Anthropologist in 2001. She served as Chair of Research Affairs for BARA from 2009 to 2013 after BARA was integrated into the School. Austin’s work has focused on community dynamics amid large-scale industrial activity, impact and program assessment, alternative technologies to address environmental and social problems, and collaborative community-based research. She has developed and maintains long-term, multisectoral partnerships in Native American communities, U.S. and Mexican border communities, and coastal communities along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, and has served as the principal or co-principal investigator on more than a dozen multiyear, multidisciplinary applied research projects for federal, state, and not-for-profit entities. She also has served on more than a dozen advisory, planning, and review boards and committees aimed at addressing environmental and social problems, and has guided students in university-community partnerships with organizations across Tucson and into southern Arizona.
Austin assumed leadership of the School just in time to begin planning for the unit’s Centennial celebration, which was held throughout 2015. Working with a community board, faculty, staff, and students, she helped organize four themed clusters of events recognizing the contributions of Arizona Anthropology since its inception in 1915 and culminating with reflections on the unit’s first century and what lay ahead. Despite improvement in the U.S. economy, the University and School experienced sustained budget cutting and contraction through 2020, resulting in reductions in the size of the faculty and graduate program. Following the 2017 Academic Program Review, Austin led School faculty in a series of sessions to identify program strengths that would build on the School’s legacy and guide the School in new directions.
The School of Anthropology currently has 35 voting faculty in five divisions: applied anthropology/BARA, archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and sociocultural anthropology. Eight program strengths crosscut the School’s divisions: (1) Anthropology of the Southwest; (2) Anthrozoology; (3) Community Based Research and Cultural Heritage in Arizona and the Southwest; (4) Ecological and Evolutionary Anthropology; (5) Health, Medicine, and Discursive Practice; (6) International Migration, Borders, and Refugees; (7) Mediterranean Studies; and (8) Sex, Gender, and Sexuality. In addition to the longstanding relationship between the School and the Arizona State Museum, Anthropology faculty have shared appointments in six campus units, including the Southwest Center, the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research, Classics, Art History, Geosciences, and the Center for Latin American Studies.
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. The graduate program was ranked 5th in the National Research Council rankings for several decades, with ranks as high as 2nd in the most recent (2010) rankings. In two recent publications of graduate student placements (Speakman et al. 2017; Kawa, McCarty, and Clark 2016), UA Anthropology ranked from 2nd to 5th. In 2020, in the QS World University Rankings Arizona was ranked 12th in the US in Anthropology and 10th in the US in Archaeology. These rankings show that Anthropology at the University of Arizona, which had become one of the top ten producers of doctorates by the 1960s, remains one of the premier graduate programs in the nation qualitatively as well as quantitatively.
Speakman, Robert J., Carla S. Hadden, Matthew H. Colvin, Justin Cramb, K.C. Jones, Travis W. Jones, Corbin L. Kling, et al. “Choosing a Path to the Ancient World in a Modern Market: The Reality of Faculty Jobs in Archaeology.” American Antiquity, 2017, 1–12. doi:10.1017/aaq.2017.36.
Kawa, Nicholas, Chris McCarty, and Jessica Clark. “The Social Network of US Academic Anthropology.” Paper presented at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN, 20 Nov. 2016.