UM Archaeologist Named Regents Professor

November 15, 2018

Anna Prentiss was named UM Regents Professor of Anthropology at the Nov. 15 Board of Regents meeting in Missoula. MISSOULA – Dr. Anna Prentiss, a University of Montana anthropology professor and archaeologist, has been named the University’s 12th Regents Professor. The Montana Board of Regents approved the honor during its Nov. 15 meeting in Missoula. Prentiss’ new title is Regents Professor of Anthropology.

Regents Professor is the top rank awarded to faculty members in the Montana University System. Established in 1991, the Regents Professor title is earned by faculty members who demonstrate unusual excellence in instruction, scholarship and service, as well as distinctive impact through their work. The rank is awarded by the Board of Regents upon the recommendation of the University president. A full list of UM professors who have received the honor is online at http://www.umt.edu/provost/about/RegentsProfs.php.

“I’m just so very honored to be named Regents Professor – particularly given the extraordinary faculty on this campus,” Prentiss said. “I also feel incredibly fortunate to have been a faculty member for all these years in our UM Department of Anthropology among such a great group of colleagues and students.”

Prentiss sports a cowboy hat and work clothes at her Bridge River archaeology site in British Columbia.Prentiss earned her archaeology doctorate from Simon Fraser University in 1993. She joined the UM faculty in 1995 and became a full professor in 2009. Her research interests include hunter-gatherers, village societies, ancient technology, evolutionary theory, and the method and theory of archaeology.

Her fieldwork has taken her and the scores of UM students she has mentored around globe, from British Columbia and Alaska to Patagonia. She also recently served as a visiting scholar in the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge, England.

Prentiss has written and co-authored six books, including 2017’s “The Last House at Bridge River,” which details a comprehensive study of a single-floor aboriginal home in British Columbia during the 19th-century Fur Trade period. She also has written 70 peer-reviewed articles, and her list of awards and accomplishments stretches her curriculum vitae to 43 pages.

“Dr. Prentiss’ well-regarded role as a consummate teacher and mentor compliments her impressive research record,” UM President Seth Bodnar wrote in nominating her for the honor. “She has mentored an impressive number of graduate students, many of whom now work at prestigious institutions themselves. Her students have co-authored many publications with her, and she has patiently mentored many students through successful grant proposal processes. Her students know her to be fully dedicated to their intellectual and professional growth.”

Bodnar continues: “She has been referred to by her colleagues as a ‘leading international voice,’ an ‘exemplary researcher,’ ‘one of the top authorities globally on the evolution of social complexity’ and ‘one of our most favorite colleagues in the world.’ I enthusiastically support her appointment as the next Regents Professor at the University of Montana.”

Prentiss said her robust research agenda was developed as a byproduct of collaborations and partnerships with Canadian First Nations and Montana tribes.

“I am particularly thankful for our friendships and partnerships with Xwísten, the Bridge River Indian Band – part of the St’át’imc Nation in British Columbia – and also the Chippewa-Cree Tribe of Rocky Boy’s Reservation here in Montana,” she said.

At the Board of Regents meeting, Jenny McNulty, dean of UM’s College of Humanities and Sciences, said, “(Prentiss) embodies the idea of the scholar-teacher. Her students describe her as the best mentor ever.”

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Contact: Anna Prentiss, UM archaeologist and anthropology professor, 406-243-2693, anna.prentiss@umontana.edu.