The UA School of Anthropology has one of the best and largest anthropology programs in the country. Anthropology faculty and students strive to understand humans and human societies, from 5 million years ago to the present. Their interdisciplinary focus enables them to integrate developments from other fields and also to contribute new research approaches and techniques to other disciplines. (Photo: Christine Scheer)
The UA School of Anthropology has one of the best and largest anthropology programs in the country. Anthropology faculty and students strive to understand humans and human societies, from 5 million years ago to the present. Their interdisciplinary focus enables them to integrate developments from other fields and also to contribute new research approaches and techniques to other disciplines. (Photo: Christine Scheer)

School of Anthropology Celebrates Centennial

Several events are planned throughout the year, with the Arizona State Museum serving as a hub of festivities. The school's faculty includes four Regents' Professors, a Distinguished Outreach Professor and a MacArthur Fellow.
Feb. 20, 2015
Extra Info: 

10 a.m.-noon — Tours of the Arizona State Museum, Emil W. Haury Laboratories, the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research and the Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Laboratory. Sign up here.

2-4 p.m. — Panel discussion, "From Dispersal to Diaspora: 50,000 Years of Mobility Around the Mediterranean." Emil W. Haury Building, Room 216.

What: 
"The Mediterranean: Bridging Old & New Worlds"
When: 
Feb. 27
Where: 
UA School of Anthropology
Anthropology at the UA began in 1915 with the appointment of Byron Cummings as professor of archaeology and director of the Arizona State Museum. (Photo: Tad Nichols)
Anthropology at the UA began in 1915 with the appointment of Byron Cummings as professor of archaeology and director of the Arizona State Museum. (Photo: Tad Nichols)

The University of Arizona School of Anthropology will celebrate its centennial throughout 2015 with a range of special events, including lectures and social occasions for alumni and the general public.

Diane Austin, the school’s director, says the centennial activities are intended to connect alumni and friends to the school and to illuminate the diversity and relevance of the work conducted by the school’s faculty and students.

"The centennial is a unique opportunity to celebrate and reflect on our past and look ahead to the future," Austin says.

Fittingly, the School of Anthropology's centennial kickoff was held at the Arizona State Museum in January. In 1915, Byron Cummings assumed the directorship of the museum and became the first professor of archaeology at the UA. At the time, the University had 70 faculty members and 463 students.

The Department of Archaeology expanded quickly. By 1932, the department included cultural, linguistic, biological and applied anthropologists. In 1937, Emil W. Haury became its head and changed its name to the Department of Anthropology to reflect its breadth. Today, the school has more than 120 graduate students and 300 undergraduates and is housed in the Emil W. Haury Building. (Read more about the school’s history here.)

The school's centennial will celebrate its rich and varied history and accomplishments with lectures, festivals, a community walk, field trips, an exhibit in the UA Libraries’ Special Collections and much more. Themes that will be highlighted during the year include “The Mediterranean: Bridging Old and New Worlds” (Feb. 27 and 28); “Anthropology of Food and Nutrition: Linking the Subfields” (April 23–25); and “Anthropology in Our Community: Celebrating Diversity” (Oct. 8–11).

Several of the events will be held in partnership with organizations such as the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, the Pima County Public Library, the Southwest Folklife Alliance, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Native Seeds/SEARCH. The year culminates with a gala in December.

As part of its celebration, the school is constructing a social network model showing the many links of its faculty and graduates with organizations and universities around the world. The project, called Centennial Connections, explores the global impact of UA anthropology.

A History of Excellence

From its humble beginning in 1915, the School of Anthropology has grown into one of the top anthropology programs in the country and is consistently ranked in the top five. One of the oldest and most prestigious units on campus, the school has over the years given birth to the University of Arizona Press, the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, the Department of Geosciences, the Department of American Indian Studies, the Southwest Center and more.

The school’s faculty is recognized internationally and includes four Regents’ Professors (Mark Nichter, John Olsen, David Soren and Mary Stiner), a Distinguished Outreach Professor (Austin) and a MacArthur Fellow (Brackette Williams). Several faculty members hold endowed chairs: the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Professor of Greek Archaeology is David Romano; the Fred A. Reicker Professor of Anthropology is Steven Kuhn; the Agnese Nelms Haury Professor is Takeshi Inomata; and the Agnese Nelms Haury Fellow is Maribel Alvarez.

"The School of Anthropology is helping our community, Arizona and the world better understand humanity," Austin says. "Our practical application of anthropology to problems of human health and medicine, language and cultural preservation and revitalization, and migration and settlement in the face of environmental change are making a difference in the lives of people around the world."

Current research being conducted by faculty in the School of Anthropology includes:

  • Bridging archaeological science and Native American traditional knowledge (T.J. Ferguson)
  • Landscapes and environments as they were when they were first populated and how they evolved under human influence (Vance Holliday)
  • Regional identities in Italy following the collapse of Roman rule (Emma Blake)
  • Treatment for tobacco dependence (Mark and Mimi Nichter)
  • Impact of environmental degradation on prehistoric societies (John Olsen)
  • Women’s reproductive and psychosocial health (Ivy Pike)
  • The rising Chinese middle class (Qing Zhang)
  • Adoption of agriculture and its consequences in the U.S. Southwest and northwest Mexico (Barbara Mills)
  • Infant care among primates (Stacey Tecot)
  • Improving livelihood assistance in sub-Saharan Africa (Mamadou Baro)
  • Land use politics in Arizona and the Southwest (Tom Sheridan)