WMU News

WMU honors archaeologist as Outstanding Emeritus Scholar

Feb. 4, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- A retired WMU professor of anthropology who has made her own mark on history through continued contributions to the archaeological knowledge of Michigan has been selected as the University's second-ever Outstanding Emeritus Scholar.

Dr. Elizabeth Baldwin Garland, a WMU faculty member from 1964 to 1992, will receive her award at the University's annual Academic Convocation held at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8, at the Dalton Center Recital Hall.

Garland is only the second recipient of the Outstanding Emeritus Scholar Award, which was instituted in 1998 to recognize retired faculty members with exemplary scholarship. Criteria for the award parallel those for the Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award, WMU's highest honor for a faculty member. They include that there be a significant body of achievement and that recipients have wide recognition beyond the University.

Garland is being recognized for her more than three decades of work as a teacher, researcher and field archaeologist, work that continues today, eight years after her retirement. Recognized by one colleague as "Michigan's foremost expert for several major periods of Great Lakes prehistory," Garland has conducted major research into the prehistoric archaeological record of Michigan. Her efforts have resulted in numerous publications, a significant collection of artifacts housed at WMU and a number of former students who are now practicing archaeologists.

Educated at Wellesley, Radcliffe and Harvard, where she received her Ph.D. in 1967, Garland joined the emerging WMU anthropology department in 1964. By 1966, she had helped establish WMU's archaeology program and a joint field school with Michigan State University.

During her career, she has directed and participated in numerous excavations throughout the state, including several intensive surveys of the Kalamazoo River basin and the archaeology mitigation for the U.S. Highway 31 project, which at the time, was the largest archaeology project ever undertaken in Michigan. Her efforts generated more than $750,000 in external research support, and as recently as 1998, she received additional grant funding for excavation and analysis of the Wymer West Knoll site in Berrien County.

"Dr. Garland's contract excavations all yielded scientific insights and significantly expanded our knowledge about prehistoric settlement and migration processes of the whole area," wrote a WMU colleague in support of her nomination. "Since her retirement she has kept on doing what she has always done, get grants and write. She continues to leave her mark on the profession."

Among the accomplishments Garland is noted for, is her work with students. Garland became a powerful mentor to many students, particularly women, who have gone on to pursue careers in archaeology. She continues to work with students in her field excavations and in a lab she maintains in Moore Hall on WMU's campus.

Her commitment to students was acknowledged through the 1996 publication of a festschrift, a collection of articles by colleagues and former students published in her honor. The 500-page volume, "Investigating the Archaeological Record of the Great Lakes State: Essays in Honor of Elizabeth Baldwin Garland," features a biography and anecdotes about Garland and 11 essays by 21 authors and co-authors on scholarly research that was influenced by her.

"All of us have been strongly influenced by Betsy," said Dr. Margaret B. Holman, one of the book's editors, at the time it was published. "Betsy is a longtime contributor to Michigan archaeology and research in the region. She has very high standards, she has a very serious interest in her profession and she engenders that kind of response from her students and colleagues."

A national colleague agrees, saying "Betsy had a very strong impact on many students who have, in their own work, added much to our knowledge of Midwestern archaeology."

One of Garland's legacies is the coordination of a large collection of archaeological materials her research and that of others in the anthropology department has yielded. According to one university colleague, Garland was instrumental in structuring the collections, making them accessible for others to use and in convincing the University to authorize a staff position to curate the collection on an on-going basis.

"Archaeological material housed at WMU provides an unusually complete record of the prehistory of the region," wrote a colleague. "This material is invaluable for future research."

Since retiring, Garland has continued to publish articles and book chapters based on her research and finally saw the publication of her 1967 dissertation, "The Obion Site: An Early Mississippian Center in Western Tennessee" in 1992. One colleague noted that the publication was fitting considering that "underground copies" of Garland's dissertation have been circulated and used in archaeological circles for decades. In addition, Garland maintains an active lab in the anthropology department and continues working with graduate students.

"Dr. Garland is a committed and caring scholar with tremendous energy and enthusiasm" wrote one colleague, while another summed up Garland by saying "she is clearly one of Western Michigan's greatest intellectual assets."

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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