The Institute for Intercultural and Anthropological Studies at Western Michigan University provides WMU students and employees as well as community members new opportunities to participate in interdisciplinary research, experience collaborative instruction and engage in intercultural activities. It is home to WMU’s existing undergraduate major and minor in anthropology, as well as the recently reinstated African American and African Studies major and minor.


Dr. Michael S. Nassaney retires from WMU

portrait photo of Dr. Michael NassaneyThe faculty in the Institute for Intercultural and Anthropological Studies would like to recognize the teaching, research and service of Michael Nassaney, who retired this summer after teaching at Western Michigan University for 28 years. Nassaney came to WMU from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1992; he became a full-time professor in 2004.

Nassaney taught a variety of courses in archaeology and ethnohistory in the anthropology and history departments, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. For years, he worked with MA students and supervised numerous master’s degrees in archaeological topics. His former students have met with their own success and have gone on to careers in academics, museum studies and cultural resource management. In 2015, WMU recognized his teaching excellence by awarding him the Distinguished Teaching Award.

Along with teaching a diverse set of courses, Nassaney also studied the archaeology of eastern North America and the Midwest, focusing on the colonial period and becoming an expert on the fur trade. His extensive research has resulted in one book, six co-edited volumes, 24 articles, and numerous book chapters and reviews.

Nassaney’s long-standing impact on students and WMU will be best remembered from the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project, which combines his teaching and research with service to the local community. The Fort St. Joseph project has been pivotal in teaching numerous WMU students the field practice of archaeology by actively engaging them in an on-going excavation. Multiple Anthropology students participated in the project and used its data for their Master’s theses and publications. Nassaney also designed the Fort St. Joseph project to involve the local community, asking the citizens of Niles for their input on the direction of project, and offering week-long experiences in archaeology for school children and adult learners. The degree of community involvement is unusual for archaeology, and helps actively engage the public both with WMU and in discovering their local heritage. His community involvement with the project earned him recognition from the Michigan Humanities Council and Michigan’s Governor office, and prompted WMU to highlight the Fort St. Joseph project in its 2009 report to the Higher Learning Commission.

We are grateful to Michael for his years at WMU, and thank him for all that he has undertaken and accomplished for WMU and its students. We will miss him!