After losing four faculty members last spring, the Anthropology Department has recruited three new professors this year, with ongoing searches to fill three more faculty slots.
In addition to the three permanent hires, six visiting professors are offering courses in the department this year, relieving fears expressed last fall that the number of classes could not meet student demand, Anthropology chair William Kelly said. Students said they had been concerned about the spike in departures last year, but most said they were satisfied with this year’s number of course offerings, which stayed constant from last fall.
Archaeologists Roderick McIntosh and Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan, who studies environmental anthropology, were hired as tenured professors in searches conducted last year, and Michael McGovern was hired as an assistant professor. Sivaramakrishnan will not arrive on campus until January 2007, but McGovern is already teaching an undergraduate course this semester.
“These are really high-profile people that we were able to hire, and we’re quite excited about who we’re going to hire with the remaining positions,” Kelly said.
Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said the administration is committed to facilitating future hiring in Anthropology to make up for the recent faculty losses.
“I think Anthropology is going through a rebuilding period,” Salovey said. “They’ve made some appointments, but they have more to go.”
The three searches that are still ongoing were launched over the summer, which is earlier than usual, Kelly said, so that the new professors will be selected before graduate students accept offers of admission in the spring. Most searches are launched in September and conclude in the late spring or early summer.
“Admitting a graduate student is a mutual decision,” Kelly said. “We want to have faculty in place who we know can teach them.”
Kelly also stressed that having the faculty in place in the spring will assist undergraduates who are thinking about majoring in the Anthropology Department, which enrolled 59 junior and senior majors last year.
Several anthropology majors said they were able to find plenty of courses this fall, even though they were disappointed to see the four professors leave at the end of last year.
“They were some of my favorite professors, but I was expecting some growing pains, and it’s actually been fine,” Megan Crandell ’07 said.
Some students who had planned to work on senior essays with professors who have since left Yale now have to find new advisers.
Claire Pavlovic ’07 said she had planned to do her senior essay with Thomas Blom Hansen, who left Yale for the University of Amsterdam, and she has not yet found an adviser for her spring semester senior essay. Lara Berlin ’07 said she knew other students who may have to work with professors who had never taught them in a course.
Phoebe Rounds ’07, who lobbied the University to extend anthropology professor David Graeber’s contract last year, said the department has helped students in the major to cope with the departures, but the volatility could be a deterrent for underclassmen who would otherwise be interested in the major.
“I think the frustrating thing for students is just having [professors] come and go in the middle of our time at Yale,” she said. “If this had been the situation in my freshman and sophomore years, I think it probably would have made it more difficult to get a feel for the department and the interests of the faculty.”
Kelly said he thinks the department has been able to put together a wide range of course offerings at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and he has not heard any complaints from students about the breadth and depth of course offerings this semester. But the department will continue to review its curriculum and whether it covers enough topics to satisfy student interests.
“There’s no department that will tell you that they’re totally satisfied and have everybody that they need,” Kelly said.
Three visiting professors teaching anthropology courses were brought in by the department this year to expand course offerings, while three more professors are here under the auspices of the Macmillan Center for International and Area Studies. The East Asian Studies Council, the Southeast Asian Studies Council and the South Asian Studies Council have each brought in a visiting scholar whose courses are listed in the department.