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Ahern Selected to Lead UW Graduate Education Efforts

September 15, 2017
head portrait of a man
James Ahern

An accomplished anthropologist, teacher and graduate mentor has been selected to fill the position of associate vice provost for graduate education at the University of Wyoming.

The UW Board of Trustees today (Friday) approved the appointment of Professor James Ahern, who will begin his new duties Sept. 17 and report directly to Provost Kate Miller. In addition to his new duties, Ahern will remain as head of UW’s Department of Anthropology until Oct. 17.

In his new role, he will be tasked with facilitating new strategic graduate degree initiatives and providing guidance and support for graduate faculty mentors and graduate students.

“We are excited to have Dr. Ahern take on this important job in re-establishing the Office of Graduate Education within Academic Affairs,” Miller says. “To support the university’s mission and strategic plan, he will guide resource allocations to graduate programs and facilitate marketing, assessment, enrollment, retention, institutional teaching capacity, graduate student diversity and academic success.”

Ahern joined UW as an assistant professor in anthropology in 2000, and he was promoted to full professor in 2014. In addition to numerous other leadership experiences, he has served as head of the Department of Anthropology since 2014.

Ahern helped build the Department of Anthropology’s Ph.D. program, which matriculated its first students in 2003. This graduate program stands out among doctoral programs in anthropology in its emphasis on preparation for both academic and nonacademic careers, and its formal mentoring of teaching.

Ahern has directed the department’s Ph.D. teaching mentoring program since 2010. Since joining UW, Ahern has served on 31 graduate thesis and dissertation committees. His students have gone on to successful careers in academia, state and federal agencies, and the private sector.

“I am excited by the challenges and opportunities to support and strengthen graduate and professional education at UW,” Ahern says. “As a land-grant and state flagship university, UW must have strong and diverse graduate and professional degree programs, as these programs produce not only the intellectual capital of academia, but also the expertise for essential professions in the private and public sectors.”

Ahern’s research has covered many aspects of human biological and biocultural evolution, and his recent efforts have focused on the complex biocultural dynamics that coincided with the Neanderthal/modern human transition in Central Europe.

Ahern received a bachelor’s degree from Beloit College, a master’s degree from Northern Illinois University and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, all in anthropology.

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