Malpass Named Dana Professor

In April, Michael Malpass, a professor in the anthropology department, was named the new Charles A. Dana Professor in the Social Sciences. Professor Joel Savishinsky, also of anthropology, was the previous incumbent of this position. The Dana professorship program began at Ithaca College in the mid-1970s, when the Charles A. Dana Foundation honored the College with an endowed fund to support several professors—one in the natural sciences, one in the social sciences, and one in the humanities and arts. This professorship is the highest honor the College bestows, and the appointment is considered permanent throughout the professor’s tenure.

Malpass arrived at Ithaca College in 1989. He was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 1995 and to full professor in 2003. He has taught a wide array of courses in the department, including the introductory World Prehistory course, Archaeological Methods and Techniques, Theory and Practice of Anthropology, and a variety of courses on Latin American prehistory. Malpass is a committed teacher and adviser, and students are overwhelmingly positive in their praise for his effectiveness as a classroom teacher and mentor.

Malpass has compiled an impressive scholarly record. Colleagues in the field of archaeology describe him as “an outstanding scholar in his chosen field of Andean prehistory [who] possesses an international reputation for his research projects on Peruvian archaeology and his subsequent publication of the results.” Malpass has served as principal investigator on multiple archaeological surveys and excavations in Peru, and has been the recipient of internal and external research grants supporting that work, including a Heinz Family Foundation grant for Latin American archaeology.

Malpass is not only a respected teacher and scholar, but he also has a distinguished record of service. He served as chair of the anthropology department for nine years, held leadership roles in many committees and programs at the College, and currently codirects the College’s Latin American studies program. In fact, Ithaca College colleagues note that he has long been at the forefront of interdisciplinary studies at the College and in particular identify him as a “prime mover” in the creation of that program.

Malpass is pleased by the honor but remains modest about his accomplishments: “I find it extremely uncomfortable that colleagues keep coming up to me and congratulating me; the spotlight is not for me. And I do wish to acknowledge my wife, Susanne, for her unflagging support.” Malpass is looking forward to “being more productive” due to the extra time afforded by the Dana professorship. In the short term, he plans to complete several projects that are currently in the works, as well as to return to Peru to begin new research projects. He is currently working on a second edition of his popular and now classic Daily Life in the Inca Empire and has also embarked on writing a textbook on western South American prehistory for Pearson publishers.

In addition, Malpass hopes to explore a collaboration with his colleagues at Arequipa University in Peru that will create opportunities for Ithaca College students to work alongside Peruvian researchers in excavating ancient sites, a collaboration that represents the intersection of Malpass’s commitments as teacher, scholar, and campus citizen.