Anthropology, Forensic Science and Archaeology Become One Department

Aug. 19, 2005

by Julie Carlson (254) 710-6681

Baylor University officials have announced that the anthropology division, which has been part of the department of sociology and anthropology, the forensic science program, which has been embedded in the anthropology program, and the Institute of Archaeology have been combined into the department of anthropology, forensic science and archaeology. The change took effect Aug. 1.

"The move to establish separate sociology and anthropology departments was one not lightly made," said Dr. Randall O'Brien, professor of religion and interim provost. "Full respect and attention to appropriate process was given. The decision involved serious and lengthy conversation with professors, the chairs, the Office of the Dean and the Office of the Provost. It is our shared conclusion that in order for each academic area to achieve the highest degree of excellence, separate units is the way to go."

Dr. Lee Nordt, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said outstanding growth and intellectual differences in the programs necessitated the division of the department, one that was agreeable to all the parties.

"This is a natural process," he said. "These programs are a huge entity in themselves. The forensic science program has more than 200 majors while the anthropology program has 43 and archaeology has 21 majors. So in terms of majors, this new department would be one of the larger ones in the College. Plus, this will also allow sociology to focus more on their Ph.D. program in the sociology of religion."

Dr. Frieda Blackwell, associate professor of Spanish, has worked closely with anthropology and forensic science in her position as associate dean of humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences and will serve as interim chair of the department.

"We in the College believe that moving these areas from the department of sociology into a new department is a very positive step," she said. "We aspire to move these programs forward to new levels of excellence. We also are working toward a move to Marrs McLean (science building) so that the department's faculty can be together and can work together to provide new opportunities for our students."

In 1976, Baylor began offering anthropology as a separate major. Before then, it was a track within the sociology department. The Institute of Archaeology also was formed in 1976. In 1999, Baylor began the forensic science major.

For more information, contact Blackwell at 710-4288.

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