Message from the Chair: Dr. Todd Fenton

Dr. Todd Fenton, Department Chairperson

For the past several months, Michigan State University has been responding to the COVID-19 crisis in accordance with directives from government and health officials. This emergency initiated an immediate reaction across campus in March to switch our courses and work to remote alternatives. The tremendous effort and patience in adapting to this situation from across the Department of Anthropology deserves profound recognition. Our faculty and graduate teaching assistants quickly modified courses to online platforms so that our students could resume their studies for the remainder of the year with the least amount of interruption possible. Our undergraduate students continued to excel and engage in their courses, albeit through a different experience. Our research and laboratory activities were altered to enable related tasks to move forward. Our staff maintained the department’s operations and, as always, were eager to help resolve issues that arose.

In the midst of this global pandemic, many have regrettably experienced grief over the loss of family or friends, missed opportunities, unfulfilled endings, and imminent uncertainties as this school year came to a close. While it is difficult to reconcile these feelings of loss, I am grateful for how the people in this department have consoled and supported one another as we have navigated through these complicated times.

Among the obstacles we have recently faced, we have also enjoyed commemorating many accomplishments across the department this semester. We have celebrated the Class of 2020 in graduating from MSU and look forward to when we can honor them in an in-person commencement ceremony. Our Anthropology Outstanding Senior, Clara Devota, was recognized by the MSU administration for her commitment to academic excellence, and is among the top College of Social Science graduates applauded for their perfect 4.0 grade point average. Numerous graduate students achieved major milestones as they progress through our PhD program and develop their own academic paths with the aid of their mentors. Finally, our faculty have continued to publish the findings from their research, and several faculty members received exciting news that they were awarded grants to support their impressive research projects.

My sincere pride in this department has only strengthened as we advanced into uncharted territory. The Department of Anthropology has demonstrated its unwavering dedication to provide an exceptional education for our students and to engage in meaningful research, even when faced with unprecedented adversity. We will carry this commitment forward in the upcoming academic year as we continue to manage ongoing challenges while prioritizing everyone’s health and safety.

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08.23.20