New Department Chair, Dr. Todd Fenton

Dr. Todd Fenton

The Department of Anthropology is pleased to announce Dr. Todd Fenton (Professor of Anthropology) as our new Department Chair. On behalf of the department, we would like to thank previous Chairperson Dr. Jodie O’Gorman for her years of invaluable service. Dr. Fenton looks forward to continuing this legacy and building on this strong department.

Dr. Fenton has served as a faculty member with the Department of Anthropology since 1998 and is a renowned forensic anthropologist. Over his career, Dr. Fenton has developed an internationally recognized PhD program focusing on forensic anthropology and established the MSU Forensic Anthropology Laboratory (MSUFAL) as a premier consulting, research, and training laboratory. One aspect of his career of which Dr. Fenton is most proud is the great success of his graduate students, who have received high honors and earned top academic and non-academic positions in the field of forensic anthropology. As Director of the MSUFAL for eight years, Dr. Fenton engaged in and managed over 500 forensic anthropology cases with local medical examiner offices and law enforcement agencies, helping the community and providing instrumental experience for his students.

Dr. Fenton’s research involves projects that seek to better understand the biomechanics of cranial and long bone fracture. The knowledge gained from this experimental research has critical implications for accurate analyses in forensic death investigations. To support this research, Dr. Fenton and a team of interdisciplinary colleagues received three large National Institute of Justice grants. In addition to forensic work, Dr. Fenton has ongoing collaborative bioarchaeological projects in Italy, including the study of skeletons excavated from an early Middle Ages cemetery in the ancient city of Roselle.

For the past four years, Dr. Fenton has carried out departmental duties as Associate Chair. During one of those academic years, he was also awarded an MSU Academic Advancement Network Leadership Fellowship, in which he had the opportunity to shadow Dean Rachel Croson of the College of Social Science. In these roles, Dr. Fenton saw the profound and significant impacts an administrator can have for improvement. He sees being chair of this department as an opportunity to help the faculty, staff, and students in achieving their goals and to fulfill the great appreciation he has for the department, college, and university.

Moving forward together, Dr. Fenton is committed to fostering an inclusive, safe, and welcoming departmental environment where all faculty, staff, and students are valued, respected, and celebrated. Dr. Fenton aims to improve the sense of community within the department and to ensure effective communication that strives for maximum transparency balanced with appropriate levels of confidentiality. He also intends to cultivate a more diverse and all-embracing environment in the department while working to increase the number of under-represented faculty members and PhD students. Dr. Fenton is resolved to be a strong advocate of the department to the administration and is determined to obtain the resources necessary for the department’s continued success.

Dr. Fenton greatly enjoyed his years of mentoring PhD students in forensic anthropology and is now excited to work with current and incoming students across the department to help them develop their academic and leadership skills and become the next generation of anthropologists.