Anthropology Department

Dear Students: A Welcome from the Chair

August 20, 2014

Dear new and returning students,

Welcome to the 2014-2015 school year! Our faculty and staff are excited about working with you and including you in our classes, research activities, events and other anthropological happenings.
“Life is about moving, it’s about change. And when things stop doing that they’re dead.” 
 Twyla Tharp

2014 brought lots of changes to the department of Anthropology. The most obvious is that our offices have moved and our campus footprint has expanded. The main department office (where you’ll find our office coordinator and Knower of Answers to All Kinds of Questions, Cindy Zehner) and faculty offices are now located on the second floor of Lake Michigan Hall (I’m in LMH 227, check the campus directory) and we have two new labs – A Biological Anthropology lab (where some of our bioanth courses will now be taught) and a new Ethnographic-Linguistic-Visual lab (affectionately known as ELVis). Ask faculty for information about these using these labs. 

The familiar and much-loved Anthropology Lab in LMH 249 will now focus a bit more on archaeology, but will retain its role as a place to gather and to find Lab Supervisor Wesley Jackson. We also have new project spaces where students can work with faculty and some locations for quiet study (shhhh). As of the time of this writing, the dust hasn’t settled and there are still boxes to unpack, but we hope to have a housewarming of sorts during winter semester. As for now, feel free to come by and say hello!

We also have some changes in personnel. Student favorites Judith Corr and Dale Borders both retired at the end of the winter semester to take up more leisurely pursuits. Christian Vannier’s three years as a visitor passed by far too quickly, and Christy Mello left Michigan for a visiting position at the University of Southern Missouri. Russell Rhoads is taking a year-long sabbatical this year, pursuing Fulbright research in Uganda and Sierra Leone. We will miss them all! 

The good news is that we have some new faces joining us this fall – Christopher Shaffer joins us as a new tenure-track physical anthropologist. He does work in Guyana with northern bearded saki monkeys and uses both GPS and GIS in his research. Andrew White, an archaeologist focusing on hunter-gatherers, lithics and complex systems theory, is joining us as a visiting professor. Erica Begun, whom many of you know, is taking a one-year visiting position with us. She studies archaeology and ethnicity in Teotihuacan, Mexico. We have a new part-time instructor starting this fall, Devon Miller. He studies Anabaptist communities, like the Amish and the Mennonites, with a focus on their historical interactions with surrounding communities. And finally, Lab Supervisor Wesley Jackson will be teaching a section of Origins of Civilization for us in Holland this fall.

We had an interesting summer with lots of research going on, most of it involving students. Elizabeth Arnold and I both worked with Student Summer Scholars (S3) this year. Professor Arnold and her student analyzed artifacts from Bronze Age Israel and my student and I studied tourist sites associated with the Crusades in France, looking at national and regional self-representation. Mark Schwartz engaged students in underwater archaeology, looking at shipwrecks in the Great Lakes in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Janet Brashler conducted our local archaeological field school, and Heather Van Wormer led an ethnographic field school in New Zealand. Faculty also traveled to Portugal, Sweden, Spain, Turkey and Costa Rica. 

Take advantage of the camaraderie and networking opportunities of the GVSU Anthropology Club! Alison Wilcoxson is the new president and information about the club and its meetings can be found on Facebook at (GVSU Anthropology Club). 

Wishing you a great semester and the wisdom to embrace and grow from change,
Deana Weibel
Chair, Anthropology Department

Page last modified August 20, 2014