Anthropology Professor Croes to retire this year

After 19 years as South Puget Sound Community College’s first full-time anthropology instructor, Professor Dale Croes has decided to retire from his faculty position. Croes said he plans to continue to work part time as adjunct faculty, primarily teaching online classes and acting as advisor for the Anthropology Club.

In a letter to staff and faculty, Croes related the incident that caused him to consider retirement. An 18-year-old student recently told Croes he had been in his class before, said Croes. When Croes asked the student when that was, the student asked if Croes remembered a pregnant woman, the student’s mother, who took one of his first classes.

Croes specializes in archaeological sites which are partially or fully submerged, called “wet sites.”

“Typical sites only preserve the stone, bone and shell artifacts, which is about 10 percent of the material culture used on the Northwest Coast,” said Croes. “With waterlogged, or wet sites, we can find the wood and fiber artifacts known to be the main materials used by Northwest Coast peoples,” he said.

Croes has worked for years on in-depth summer fieldwork, most notably including an 11-year-long series of field classes at the nearby Qwu?gwes wet site in Mud Bay.

Croes said, “I am proud that our SPSCC archaeological project was featured in American Archaeology and used as a case study in two archaeology textbooks.”

Croes said he believes much of the success of the Qwu?gwes dig can be attributed to SPSCC’s nature as a technical college. He said that with the help of Professor Michael Martin and his students, “we have some of the best professional archaeological maps ever produced.” He said the welding technical programs at the college helped design metal screens used at the site. The digs also received help from the Geology, Math, Botany, and Zoology programs.

Croes said he is also proud of the college’s support of student clubs. He said, “I have worked at Washington State University and Edmonds Community College, and they do not provide the amount of assistance we give our students’ Clubs.”

The Anthropology Club was the first SPSCC club to organize a trip off the continent, taking students to Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania. The club has also traveled to Mexico, Germany, Japan, and Alaska.

During the 2003 spring break, the club sponsored an international conference, the 10th Wetland Archaeology Research Project (WARP). Over 100 wet site archaeologists participated from all over the world.

Croes said he had planned to apply as graduation speaker this year, but he received an invitation from the University of New Mexico (UNM) Anthropology Department to help explore a potentially 11-thousand-year-old wet site in Alaska. The site was discovered by Mark Williams, a former student of Croes, who is currently pursuing his doctorate at UNM.

Croes is excited to work on the site. He said, “It has excellent preservation of wood and fiber materials and bone and shell remains, something very rare in a site that has been dated to approximately 11,000 years old.”

Croes said, “Since the waterlogging preserved these materials, we may find some things never seen before from this very early time period.”

As for Croes’ plans after working the site, he said, “I have found a really comfortable fold-out rocking chair at Costco and have been practicing — I am getting pretty good at it.”

Croes said he strongly believes that the college has “one of the best formats for students to explore their interests and develop their academic majors.”

He said he encourages students to join the student clubs so they can take advantage of the programs provided by Student Life.

“We give students amazing opportunities for field trips, international travel, and attending professional conferences where they can network and see where they would like to go for their B.A.s and beyond,” he said, “We are really lucky at SPSCC to have great staff, faculty and administrators who really care about teaching, international education and extracurricular programs.”

The anthropology department will be overseen by Social Sciences Dean Dr. Deb Teed and by full-time anthropology faculty Dr. Patrick Chapman. Croes said the department is in good hands, “I am sure they will continue to enhance our offerings in anthropology as they have for years.”