Anthropologist to Take Over as Dean
in School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts

Mark S. AldenderferChancellor Steve Kang announced last week that a new dean for the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts (SSHA) has been appointed.

Anthropological archaeologist Mark S. Aldenderfer of the University of Arizona will take over the position on Jan. 1, 2010. Aldenderfer’s appointment marks the end of an exhaustive administrative search since Founding Dean Kenji Hakuta left in 2006.

“We are very excited to welcome Dr. Aldenderfer to the UC Merced family,” Kang said. “It is my belief that he has both the skills and vision required to lead the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts as our university grows in the coming years.”

Aldenderfer is best known for his study of the transition from hunting and gathering to pastoralism in highland Peru. Most recently, he has conducted archaeological research in Tibet and is the editor of “Current Anthropology,” one of the field’s most prestigious academic journals. He has been a professor of anthropology at the University of Arizona since 2005.

Aldenderfer has administrative experience in mathematics and information technology, making him a prime pick to lead a school as diverse as SSHA. Aldenderfer is also no stranger to the UC system, spending 15 years in both faculty and administrative roles at UC Santa Barbara.

“In terms of the number of majors offered and students enrolled, the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts is UC Merced’s largest academic entity,” said Keith Alley, executive vice chancellor and provost. “It takes a special person with a passion for interdisciplinary collaboration to head such a school. It’s my belief that Dr. Aldenderfer is such a person.”

Programs in anthropology, cognitive science, economics, history, literature and culture, management, political science and psychology comprise SSHA’s major offerings. The school also offers 14 minors.

“I believe the UC system is the finest collection of research institutions in the world,” said Aldenderfer, who will begin his new position in January 2010. “I wasn’t looking to become a dean, but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to lead a school within UC Merced’s interdisciplinary model.”
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