Michael Galaty joined the University of Michigan’s Museum of Anthropological Archeology as its new director this past July. Additionally, Galaty will work with Ph.D. Anthropology students which is a new and exciting endeavor for him. While balancing administrative roles alongside teaching can be a challenge, it’s one that Galaty is well prepared for.
“In the last few years, I have been doing a lot less teaching because I’ve had heavy administrative loads but I look forward to working with graduate students and Ph.D. students,” said Galaty. “I believe anthropologists have something to share. I think we have an important way of looking at the world which a lot of people don’t understand but I think it’s valuable. As educators, we have an important role to play as anthropologists.”
It was more than his love of research and anthropology that pushed him to be an educator. For him, teaching is a family affair.
“My mom was a teacher. My brother is a teacher. There are other professors in my family. One of them is a professor of Anthropology as well. It kind of runs in the family,” he said. “I was taken to see the King Tut exhibit by my grandpa in Chicago in the late 70s and that really sparked my interest in Archeology. It just stuck with me and I decided I was going to go to college and learn how to be an archeologist.”
Galaty emphasizes the importance of professional student faculty relationships. Through teaching, he has gained new perspectives and finds his students help create a dialogue that works through the issues at hand. While previously at Mississippi State University, he worked with a group of students in Virginia at a college trustee owned historical dig site. Simultaneously, he taught a historical archeology course that allowed his students to work in the field with him.
“The students were given hands-on projects where they were analyzing the materials from this site. Some of them had actually dug there as well,” said Galaty. “They were helping me get my work done but I was helping by teaching them. A few of those students went on to careers in CRM and to do historical archeology.”
Through his roles as director and an educator, Galaty hopes to build onto the established foundation of Michigan's Museum of Anthropological Archaeology program. While acknowledging the achievements of the program, he plans to continue to contribute to its success.
“Michigan's Museum of Anthropological Archaeology has had a huge role to play in the development of Archeology as a field not only in America, but also globally,” said Galaty. “For instance, some of the faculty are giants in the field who have shaped how we do archeological theory. I want to make sure we maintain that position as a leader in the field. We have produced a large number of Archeology Ph.D.s who now are in top level positions all over the country. I want to make sure our graduate program remains as strong as it’s always been and that we continue to shape the field through our students.”