Michael F. Brown Named President of the School for Advanced Research

Media contact:  Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., April 16, 2014—Michael F. Brown, the James N. Lambert ’39 Professor of Anthropology and Latin American Studies at Williams College, has been named president of the School for Advanced Research (SAR) in Santa Fe, N.M.

A member of the Williams faculty since 1980, Brown has served as department chair, director of the Center for Technology in the Arts and Humanities, and director of the Oakley Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

“Michael is the perfect choice to lead the School for Advanced Research,” says Williams president Adam Falk. “His own scholarly work—thoughtful, precise, well written—is a model of the kinds of studies that SAR promotes. At the same time he’s a very able administrator, as he’s shown many times over his 30-plus years at Williams, including as co-chair of the committee that oversaw the large and complicated project that has brought us Hollander and Schapiro Halls, the renovation of Stetson Hall, and the new Sawyer Library. Williams can be proud that Michael now has the opportunity to apply his considerable skills to the advancement of his profession nationally and internationally.”

Brown’s research focuses on issues as diverse as magic and ritual, indigenous intellectual property rights, the New Age movement, and the native peoples of Amazonia. He has been awarded research fellowships by the National Science Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute for Advanced Study. Brown is the author of six published books, including Who Owns Native Culture? (Harvard University Press, 2003) and the forthcoming Upriver: The Turbulent Life and Times of an Amazonian People (Harvard University Press, 2014). He has also published general-interest articles and reviews in Natural History, Smithsonian, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the New York Times Book Review.

“Williams offers the best possible conditions for the professional growth of its faculty because of the College’s long tradition of faculty governance,” says Brown. “At SAR, I will have the chance to apply this experience to the advancement of anthropology and Native American Studies at one of the nation’s oldest residential research centers.”

SAR was established in 1907 as a center for the study of the archaeology and ethnology of the American Southwest. Since 1967, the scope of the school’s activities has embraced a global perspective through programs to encourage advanced scholarship in anthropology and related social science disciplines and the humanities, and to facilitate the work of Native American scholars and artists.

“I’m profoundly grateful for my 34 years at Williams and hopeful that, as president of SAR and an emeritus member of the Williams faculty, I can collaborate with Williams on projects of mutual interest relating to anthropology, the Hispanic Southwest, and Native American art and culture,” says Brown, who will retire from Williams in June. Brown’s wife, Sylvia Kennick Brown, is also retiring this year, after serving as college archivist and special collections librarian since 1988.


Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions on U.S. applicants are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.