Barbra Meek, professor of anthropology and linguistics, has been named associate dean of social sciences at the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University of Michigan. Meek succeeds Fiona Lee, who has served as interim associate dean since July 2021. Her term begins July 1, 2022.

“I am delighted to welcome Professor Meek as associate dean of social sciences,” says Anne Curzan, dean of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University of Michigan. “As a college, we are committed to meaningful, purposeful research and teaching that positively impacts the world, and our departments in the social sciences are top-ranked, outstanding on so many measures. Professor Meek embodies the academic excellence, inclusivity, and collaborative efforts that we as LSA strive for every day, and I know that she will build on the foundation of success already set in place.”

There are 18 units in the social sciences division in LSA: anthropology, communication and media, economics, history, linguistics, organizational studies, political science, psychology, sociology, women’s and gender studies, the Barger Leadership Institute, the International Institute, the National Center for Institutional Diversity, the Residential College, the U-M Center for Social Solutions, the Weinberg Institute for Cognitive Science, and the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology, as well as a relatively new minor program: Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences.

“It is truly an honor to serve in this role,” Meek says. “We are living in a time of global challenges and global innovation. Social sciences play a significant role in helping us navigate and understand our connection and interaction as a society. As associate dean of social sciences, I look forward to highlighting and advocating the research and scholarship of our faculty and students in this space.” 

Professor Meek has been a member of the LSA faculty since 2001. As a linguist and anthropologist, Meek studies language revitalization—as a way to reclaim and carry hither words, dialects, and knowledge to future generations. She examines how representation and performance of language differences are intertwined with social inequality, specifically within Indigenous communities. This work hits close to home for her and was influenced, in part, by her own upbringing. A citizen of the Comanche Nation, Meek witnessed language loss firsthand; her grandfather was the last speaker of Comanche in her family. As a scholar and higher education leader, she is focused on student and faculty recruitment and retention of Indigenous peoples, and diversifying the university and academia in general.

A strong advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion, Meek serves as director of the Native American Studies Program, housed in the Department of American Culture at LSA. She is a member of the Indigenous Initiatives Leadership Group and served on the University of Michigan’s Anti-Racism Hiring Initiative Committee. Beyond her work at U-M, she collaborates with the University of British Columbia, Yukon’s Department of Education, and Dene First Nations on projects in the Yukon Territory.


Image courtesy of The Michigan Photo Store