First, the changes: Since we last wrote, our Department Chair Jeanne Sept retired and moved to the Pacific Northwest. Dr Sept is now Professor Emerita and continues her research on African Prehistory and the contributions of Professor Glynn Isaac, who died tragically in the 1980s. Dr. Sept also served for many years here at IU as the Dean of Faculty, and was a mentor to many women in leadership roles, including myself. With her retirement, Shane Greene stepped in as an interim chair in fall 2019, and then I began my term in January 2020.
Just before IU went into a quarantine lockdown in March 2020 and a hiring freeze ensued, we were very lucky to hire two outstanding junior faculty members! Keitlyn Alcantara is a bioarchaeologist with a particular interest in food ways and community-engaged research, who joined us after finishing her PhD at Vanderbilt University in summer 2020, and Christina Collins, a cultural anthropologist also working on food and drink-related topics in East Africa, will join the faculty in fall 2021, having completed a postdoc at Princeton and her PhD from Duke University.
As IU moved to online classes, the Anthropology faculty pivoted to this modality with determination and creativity, anxious to ensure as much as possible that high quality instruction continued. Zoom became our new friend (and occasionally our adversary when technology conspires against us!), and many of us have discovered that some aspects of this mode of teaching provide new opportunities for engagement. Thanks to IU’s extensive testing regime that was implemented in fall 2020 (due in no small part to Aaron Carroll, IU’s COVID mastermind and host of weekly COVID webinars), we were able to hold some classes in person in fall and in spring 2021. We look forward to returning to in person classes in fall 2021, and we all wonder what that “new normal” will look and feel like.