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.