I began teaching introductory archaeology courses at the University of Illinois in January, 1977, having been hired as an Instructor by the Department after completing my PhD Preliminary Exams in December. I approached my new job with enthusiasm, good will, and thorough incompetence because like most, if not all, graduate students of my generation, I was trained to be a researcher and scholar, not a teacher. As events proved, my fears were far from groundless and my first semester behind the podium was a suitably humbling experience. I gradually learned the trade, but even when I retired from teaching at the University of Illinois in 2007, I could not confidently say that I became as good and effective a teacher as I felt that I should be.
These days, my active involvement in teaching is mostly limited to co-authoring an introductory physical anthropology and archaeology textbook with Bob Jurmain and Lynn Kilgore. They’ve been outstanding mentors and our latest edition of Understanding Humans, 11e, which bears a copyright date of 2013, is a first rate product.
Another important aspect of teaching at a research university is to act as the academic advisor to graduate students in the MA and PhD programs. I’ve had the privilege to advise a wide range of students and I learned a great deal from each of them. After I retired, Professor Emeritus status enabled me to continue to chair the PhD committees of my four remaining advisees. All four successfully completed their degrees; the last one (Dana Beehr) became Dr. Dana Beehr in 2011.