Chair’s Greeting: “Rearrangement”

by Danilyn Rutherford, Professor and Chair

The past few years have been a time of “rearrangement” in the Department of Anthropology, to use a term Susan Harding coined last year when she refused to let us throw her a retirement party. She preferred to host a “rearrangement” party, she told us. As Susan saw it, she was merely “rearranging” her schedule, eliminating some duties in order to free up time to concentrate on the parts of her job she liked best. True to her word, Susan has devoted the first year of her “rearrangement” to completing her book on secularism in the United States and teaching her favorite class. She’s made good on her promise not to attend any more faculty meetings. But she has shown up behind the scenes in the Center for Emerging Worlds, where she has helped write grants and organize events.

In much the same fashion, during her “rearrangement,” Carolyn Martin-Shaw has finished a book and worked magic with our graduate students in our course on Grant Writing. During his “rearrangement,” Dan Linger has maintained his reputation for mind-bending teaching in seminars and lectures on everything from Gregory Bateson to the Ethnography of Brazil. Adrienne Zihlman has worked non-stop since “rearranging” her schedule completing a landmark study of comparative primate anatomy. Beginning next year, Diane Gifford-Gonzalez will be “rearranging” her schedule to spend time serving as President of the Society for American Archaeology and gardening. Shelly Errington, who prefers to say she is “going over to the light side,” will be applying for grants and helping out with the Writing Assistant Program, in addition to showing her photography and amusing her colleagues and students with witty cartoons. Olga Nájera-Ramírez will continue to inspire everyone around her with her dedication to her students, her family, and her community. Triloki Pandey will continuing writing and delivering invited lectures while remaining an astonishing teacher and mentor. “Retirement” clearly doesn’t cut it, when it comes to describing what our emeritus faculty are up to. Susan was right. “Rearrangement” rings much truer.

As those of you in the Class of 2015 move out into the world, we urge you to take a similar view of your relationship to the department. Graduation is a kind of “rearrangement.” Going forward, you won’t have to show up for class at noon, or 10:30 a.m. -- or, horrors, 8 a.m. But you can still continue to think and act anthropologically. And you can stay involved by telling us about the places your degree takes you and lighting a path for those who follow in your wake. Like your “rearranged” professors, you have great things ahead of you. We hope you’ll do just as good a job of staying in the mix.