New Graduate Program Director

The Department of Anthropology is pleased to announce Associate Professor and affiliated faculty member of the American Indian and Indigenous Studies program, Dr. Mindy Morgan is our new Graduate Program Director. Dr. Morgan previously held the position of Associate Chair and enjoyed having input on department policies and practices and when this position arose, it seemed like another opportunity for her to be able to help shape the direction of our program. After having the opportunity to teach the incoming core theory course for many years, Dr. Morgan always enjoyed getting to know the incoming students and to help them create a supportive cohort. She misses this opportunity now that another faculty teach the course. Dr. Morgan sees the Graduate Program Director role as a way of not only continuing that work, but to be involved in students’ careers as they move through the program. Having always enjoyed serving on graduate committees and learning about the diverse and exciting work our students are doing, she views this new position as a good way of engaging with an even wider range of students.

Some of the new directions Dr. Morgan wants to steer the graduate program in are to have more engagement with our alumni and to engage in more conversations about career opportunities and trajectories. Our program has had success in placing people in highly rewarding academic positions, but we have also had great success in placing graduates in non-academic settings. Given the difficulties of the current academic job market, she intends to facilitate more conversations about non-academic positions and to hopefully create wider career networks for our graduates. Dr. Morgan also anticipates developing a more responsive curriculum, allowing students to take the seminars they need to move through the program in a timely way. Part of moving through the program in a timely fashion is to help students connect with other sources of funding and to provide the support they need to successfully secure funding in a changing funding environment. Lastly, she would like to see a more strategic recruiting program put in place where we can encourage a greater number of students to consider applying to the anthropology department.

Dr. Morgan has always said that Anthropology found her. She has always loved stories for the wisdom they contain as well as for the community created through their telling. She never knew how to articulate this fascination until she discovered anthropology late in her undergraduate career as an American Culture major. She decided that she needed some disciplinary rigor in which to shape her interests and anthropology provided that framework. Dr. Morgan went on to complete her PhD in 2001 from Indiana University in Bloomington in anthropology. When on the job market before coming to MSU, she found the most challenging thing about the graduate student to job transition was that there is quite a bit of institutional knowledge required that must be learned quickly in order to be effective at the College and University levels. During her short time as Graduate Program Director, she has already learned a great deal about how the College of Social Sciences and the Graduate School work. She now applies this knowledge to her own advising and helps students navigate the university more effectively.

Being a true academic at heart, one of her favorite things about our department is that almost every day I am learning something new about a place or topic I have not encountered before. Due to the range of expertise and interests among our faculty as well as our graduate students, every day brings something new. There is no normal “routine.” Dr. Morgan’s favorite thing about her position is the enjoyment she gets from working with students directly both in advising and through workshops. She also enjoys working with incoming students to help introduce and acclimate them to MSU and the department. The best part for her, however, is attending the advanced degree program and seeing our students walk across the stage to receive their diplomas. It is immensely satisfying to see students complete their degrees and move on to new and exciting endeavors.

Outside of academia, Dr. Morgan has few hobbies but she is passionate about her family, supporting the performing arts (especially dance), and traveling (for purposes other than research).

On the horizon, Dr. Morgan is working on a book manuscript regarding the periodical Indians at Work, but has also been readily enjoying a small detour into the history of Anthropology. She has an article regarding Ruth Underhill coming out in the Histories of Anthropology Annual (Vol. 13) next year. Dr. Morgan truly hopes to have a positive impact on our department’s future and we look forward to further research and graduates as she continues her career with us.

To read the rest of this newsletter, click here.

02.06.19