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Anne M. Slater* - 2007 Outstanding Former Faculty
Anne Martha Saxon Slater was in the English Department at Rutgers University prior to coming to UW. In 1969, she joined the UW Department of English and moved to the Department of Anthropology in 1970 as the department’s sole linguistic anthropologist.
During her years in the Department of Anthropology, Slater taught History of Anthropological Thought, the department’s required undergraduate capstone course, which also served as the history of theory course for graduate students. She also taught the required course in linguistics for both groups. Thus, anthropology majors for a 25-year period had the benefit of her rigorous instruction. Her staunch support for the four subfields of anthropology was unsurpassed.
A true student advocate, Slater placed teaching as her highest academic priority. “Professor Slater was always one to recognize and encourage students with academic potential,” says Professor Emeritus George C. Frison. “On the other hand, she was a magnet for the disadvantaged and/or minority students. Her home was a second home for students suffering from extreme culture shock from being thrust into an unfamiliar environment. These students could always find a warm meal and a sympathetic ear. I have also on more than one occasion known her to write a check from her personal funds to help pay a deserving student’s registration expenses with no thought or expectation of reimbursement.” Slater served as faculty advisor for various student organizations such as the Black Student Alliance and Keepers of the Fire. She noted that her proudest time at UW was her role as advisor to those student athletes who became known as the “Black Fourteen” in their fight against racism.
Slater’s commitment to interdisciplinary programs was notable. She established the first cross-listed classes at UW among the Departments of Anthropology, English, and Modern and Classical Languages and directed the linguistics degree program, which for several years offered its own degree. Slater was instrumental in establishing many A&S interdisciplinary programs, including American Indian Studies and Religious Studies.
Serving as associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1972 to 1974, she was the first woman to be so designated at UW. Prior to her retirement in 1995, she was two-term head of the Department of Anthropology from 1987 to 1993.
Associate Dean Audrey Shalinsky says, “Anne was the person who picked me up at Laramie Airport when I came for my interview. She took an immediate interest in my research and even helped a family from Afghanistan who had been my interviewees, parents and six children, resettle in Laramie. She got them housing, got the children in school, got them medical care and jobs. She liked to get things done without undue fuss.”
Slater established several endowments, including the Seibold Fund, the Britschgi award for math and anthropology students, and the Flittie sabbatical award. She also served on the committee that administered the Northern Arapaho Endowment Fund. She extensively participated in volunteer work, including membership in the Wyoming Humanities Council, the Ivinson Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, the Senior Lyceum, and Albany County Public Library. Her life was sustained by her daughters, Martha and Marlis, and her love of animals.
*In loving memory.