September 08, 2005

Susan Ford is new chair of anthropology at SIUC

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Susan M. Ford, associate professor of anthropology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, became chair of her department Aug. 16. The SIU Board of Trustees ratified the appointment during its meeting today (Sept. 8) in Edwardsville.

Ford, a full-time faculty member since 1980, replaces Jonathan Hill, who is on sabbatical this semester. She will serve a three-year term.

Shirley Clay Scott, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said Ford should handle the broad responsibilities that go with a chair's position with ease.

"She is well organized, thinks comprehensively, has a commitment to undergraduate education and has been an excellent teacher — she has won various teaching awards," Scott said.

"The fact that she knows the department and the college very well gives her a context for planning and decision making, and she understands the service component of the college's mission as well.

"She also has been intensely involved with research and graduate education, both in her department and in the university as a member of Graduate Council. Her research specialization within an interdisciplinary department gives her an understanding and appreciation of the relationship of natural or ‘hard' science research and learning with the social science and humanities aspects of a liberal arts college. I am very pleased that she is willing to take over the chair's position in this very strong department."

A physical anthropologist, Ford's research focuses on the functional anatomy, biogeography, and evolutionary relationships of South American monkeys. Her professional memberships include the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, the International Primatological Society and the American Association of Anthropologists.

Ford said her department has grown both in size and stature, nationally and internationally, in recent years.

"I see it running on a strong surge of adrenalin and productivity that I hope to shape and increase into the future, "Ford said.

The department faces both internal and external program reviews next year, so Ford will spend much of her initial time putting together the self-study document required by such reviews. The department also will search for faculty members in forensic anthropology and biological anthropology and a practice anthropologist as well.

"This will greatly reshape our program and, we hope, poise us to be even more productive and visible nationally as a dynamic and important program in anthropology," Ford said, noting that the department aims to improve its National Research Council ranking when that body issues its next assessment.

In addition, the department plans a search for a specialist in the anthropology of Latino cultures, a new subject area that is drawing large, enthusiastic enrollments.

Ford, a native of Fayetteville, N.Y., earned her bachelor's degree from Roanoke College in Salem, Va., and her doctoral degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

Providing for succession at every level of the University is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.