William L. Fash Jr. has been named Howells Director of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University, effective Jan. 1, 2004. Fash, the Charles P. Bowditch Professor of Central American and Mexican Archaeology and Ethnology in the Harvard Anthropology Department, will succeed Rubie Watson, the first Howells Director of the Peabody Museum, who announced earlier this year that she will step down from the position on Dec. 31.
“Bill brings to this position a deep familiarity with and respect for the Peabody Museum and its mission. He is a renowned scholar and teacher, who has already served with distinction as chair of our Anthropology Department. He knows well the significant challenges and opportunities that lie ahead,” said William C. Kirby, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, upon making the announcement.
A distinguished scholar of Mesoamerican civilizations, Fash has been chair of the Harvard Department of Anthropology since 1998, a role he will relinquish upon taking on the leadership of the Peabody.
Kirby also thanked Watson for her six years of service as museum director. “Rubie has been an exemplary director. Under her leadership, the museum has not only continued to provide faculty and students access to one of the finest collections of its kind in the United States, but has extended its outreach by offering superb exhibitions and educational programs. She leaves the museum as an active part of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and a significant cultural and educational presence in the greater Cambridge community.” Watson will return to work as a field anthropologist, and to teaching. Early next year, she will begin research involving China and the American West, then return to Harvard in fall 2004 to continue her teaching and research as Senior Lecturer on Anthropology and Curator of Comparative Ethnography at the Peabody Museum.
Fash, 49, joined the Harvard anthropology faculty in 1995. Prior to that, he was a professor in the Department of Anthropology and executive director of the Anthropology Museum at Northern Illinois University. With a focus on Mesoamerican civilizations, he has strong teaching and research interests in cultural process, settlement pattern analysis, sociopolitical evolution, and the rise of complex culture.
Fash received his Ph.D. in anthropology from Harvard in 1983, and a B.A. in anthropology from the University of Illinois in 1976.