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George C. Frison -- 2009 Outstanding Former Faculty
Department of Anthropology
Wyomingites often are characterized as fiercely independent, hardworking, and innovative, and this description fits George C. Frison to a tee. Frison, head of the Department of Anthropology from 1967 to 1987, dedicated more than 20 years to excellent teaching, research, and public service. He is the first and only faculty member at the University of Wyoming to be elected into the National Academy of Sciences.
Among the first non-traditional UW students, Frison started his academic career in 1942 but left in 1943 to serve in World War II. Frison then returned to Ten Sleep, Wyoming, to work on the family ranch. He returned to UW in 1962 to fulfill his dream of higher education. Frison finished his bachelor’s degree in 1964, followed by a master’s (1965) and a Ph.D. (1967) both from the University of Michigan. After earning a Ph.D., Frison returned to UW and was named head of the newly formed Department of Anthropology. Frison also served as the first Wyoming State Archaeologist.
Frison’s natural ability to bring out the best in his students helped them develop their own analytical and critical thinking skills, and he never discouraged an idea or pointed out flaws in a student’s plan. He wanted students to learn their own capacities while he simply guided them.
Frison received the Society for American Archaeologists Lifetime Achievement award, the Paleoarchaeologist of the Century award, the George Duke Humphrey Distinguished Faculty award, and the Distinguished Service Award of the Plains Anthropology Society.