The Department of Anthropology celebrated its 35th anniversary in October 2010. In 1963, the Sociology Department hired one full-time faculty member to teach in the anthropology discipline. The department now consists of 14 faculty, office staff, adjunct instructors, about 50 graduate students, 200 majors and nearly 60 minors. It wasn’t until 1975 that Anthropology was poised to achieve departmental standing and become independent from the Sociology Department.
Retired faculty member, Dr. Russ Coberly, wrote in his book, Recollections of Early Anthropology at CSU, “Anthropology benefited from the growth of American universities in the decades following World War II. If all fields gained from the rising tide, the gain for anthropology was disproportionate. The major surge in higher education was a necessary condition for anthropology to acquire a foothold at hundreds of universities and colleges where it was previously unknown. Without the surge, those schools would have continued to employ economists and political scientists, but few would have gambled on the novelty presented by anthropology, which would have remained tethered to a handful of institutions.
Anthropology profited from the establishment of the Peace Corps during the Kennedy administration, and from the Peace Corps’ subsequent popularity. CSU faculty members were instrumental during the founding stages of the Peace Corps, and many departments had people with technical and socioeconomic development expertise that guided their own projects and attracted students concerned with change in the Third World. Anthropology enjoyed a benefit-by association in students’ thinking due to the positive response to the Peace Corps.
As the 1960s progressed, numerous anthropology faculties across the country took steps that separated anthropology from sociology. Cultural anthropology started to emerge more as a ethnology than as social science. This viewpoint merged with ours and we realized CSU’s Anthropology department was born.
Sometime during 1967-68 the Anthropology faculty moved out of “Old Main” into what was known as the Social Sciences Building, now known as the Andrew G. Clark Building. The new area was much more spacious and the new classroom and laboratory space gave faculty a sense of cohesiveness. According to Coberly, Dr. Robert Theodoratus became Director of the Anthropology Division in the late 1960’s and functioned in many respects as a Chairman. “Sociology kept most of the external committee obligations for itself, which left anthropology faculty more time to spend on their own concerns.”
“Students jammed our classes, and we looked to Colorado-Boulder’s Ph.D. candidates for instructors to staff extra sections of 100-level courses. Middle class prosperity permitted many students to delay career decisions, and anthropology took its place among fields judged impractical but interesting. As a relatively new subject it attracted students who were willing to risk novelty, especially after experiencing dissatisfaction with initial major choices.
In 1975, the Department of Anthropology was officially created. It remained in the C-wing of the Clark Building until 2008 when it moved to the B wing. At that time, the department hired two full-time geography professors and a Geospatial Information Systems Lab was installed.
The department has an anthropology major, minor, and three optional concentrations: archaeology, biological anthropology, and cultural anthropology; as well as a geography major and minor. The department now offers online courses to meet the needs of today’s students. Anthropology professors maintain nine different labs for their continuing research and the department field schools are well-known for their popularity with students and as a great resource for providing these students with valuable “hands on” experience.
If you have a story to share, please contact Katie Horton, Communications Coordinator, at Katie.Horton@colostate.edu or (970) 491-4635.