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Honoring Our Past Faculty

Ronald Himes (1940-2024)

Anthropology Faculty Member (1969-2002)

Ron HimesRonald Himes came to SDSU in 1969, ABD at the University of Hawaii with an emphasis in kinship and social organization and a specialization in Southeast Asia and the Philippines. Self-styled as “an anthropologist who taught for a living, not primarily a teacher,” Ron soon found his true love to be graduate and undergraduate teaching, and he quickly morphed into one of the most effective and beloved instructors in the fledgling department of the early 1970s.

In the middle 1970s, Ron was drafted to take on responsibility for the difficult and, as he liked to say, “undoubtedly the most unpopular stepchild in our program,” Anthropological Linguistics. With the meticulous conscientiousness that characterized his research, writing, and teaching throughout his career and on into a productive retirement, Ron swiftly transformed the undergraduate and graduate SDSU Anthropological Linguistics track into an interesting and attractive subfield within the department, a status that it retained on up to his retirement in 2002. At the same time, he refocused his own research and writing interests to reflect the content of his various courses and seminars: “It was a turning point. My interests swung wholeheartedly into the sphere of language change, with an emphasis on the linguistic evidence for culture history in the Cordilleran languages & cultures in northern Luzon, Philippines. I had started collecting linguistic data in the Cordillera in 1963-64, continued in 1966-68, and returned specifically for that purpose in 1977, 1981, and 1989. My data ultimately included phonological and lexical data from 94 Central Cordilleran sites, 16 Southern Cordilleran sites, and 7 Northern Cordilleran sites.” The end result was a compendium of reconstructions in Proto-Central, Proto-Southern, Proto-South-Central (the parent of those two), Proto-Northern, and Proto-Cordilleran (the parent of all those) that became a major contribution to knowledge of the technology, social structure, migration patterns and general culture history of the northern Philippines.

In 1984 Ron was elected to chair the department, which he did until 1989. During this tenure as chair, Ron oversaw the addition of one new tenure track position in archaeology to the department, but more importantly, he worked to stabilized the department’s on again, off again engagement with local archaeology and resource management activities into what became formalized as the South Coast Information Center and the Collections Management Facility. This was a significant step in the growth of today’s department.  

Ron was one of “The Survivors” of the infamous 1991 mass firing, and assumed chairmanship for a second time in 2000. Over his last two years at SDSU, Ron oversaw implementation of the new applied anthropology focus for the anthropology program, securing the first two hires in this, an applied cultural anthropologist, Ramona Pérez, and an applied historical archaeologist, Seth Mallios. He also was instrumental in finally realizing the Department’s serious space needs for separate Collections Management, South Coast Information Center, and Maya Research Lab Facilities, all then located off campus at the University’s City Heights satellite complex. After his retirement in 2002, Ron continued an active program of field research, writing, and publication in his own beloved areas of Philippine Cordilleran Historical Linguistics.

There is one more thing that Ron Himes’ former colleagues and students will always remember him for: in a time when civility and good manners were rapidly disappearing, Ron remained a true, consummate gentleman throughout his career and life. A quiet, mild-mannered person by nature, Ron was always pleasant, polite, and genuinely caring toward all with whom he came in contact. He was ever the model of a true teacher-scholar from a bygone age.


Daniel D. Whitney (1937-2024)

Anthropology Faculty Member (1966-2000)

Dan WhitneyDaniel D. Whitney, born in 1937, served as a professor in the San Diego State Anthropology department for 34 years. Dan, a cultural anthropologist, was hired at San Diego State in 1966, two years before completing his Ph.D. at Michigan State University.  He passed away on March 3rd, 2024. Dr. Whitney specialized in Japanese culture, law and society, and recreation and public land use.  He taught a variety of courses on Asia, co-authored the book, Cultural Contexts: Making Anthropology Personal in 1980 (Allyn and Bacon) with Patrick J. Dubbs, and served as the California Faculty Association Grievance Officer. Soon after being hired at San Diego State, Dan was appointed Associate Dean of the new (in 1969) College of Arts and Letters.  After stepping down from this administrative position, Professor Whitney simultaneously returned to teaching and enrolled in law school, earning his J.D. in 1976 from Western State University and passing the California State Bar. Dan then split his time between practicing law and teaching anthropology before taking on a variety of administrative positions, including Director of Programs for the American Anthropological Association, Fulbright Lecturer in Japan, and Director of the SDSU Center for Asian Studies.  

Dan Whitney’s unique interests in anthropology, administration, law, and institutional justice were put to the test in the spring of 1992 when SDSU President Thomas B. Day responded to a state budget crisis by firing 111 tenured professors (including all of Anthropology), at the time, the largest termination of faculty in higher-education history.  Dan, who chaired the Anthropology department at the time, sprung into action; he organized and participated in protests, filed a class-action lawsuit against the university for wrongful termination, led votes of no-confidence against President Day, and relentlessly appeared in the media as a counterpoint to the administration’s draconian budgetary cuts while also assuring that students completed their courses and graduated or had alternative degree plans.  Through the dogged pursuit of justice by Dr. Whitney and his colleagues, students, alumni, staff, and community members, the cuts were rescinded, the terminated faculty were reinstated, students returned to anthropology, and eventually President Day was forced out. Dan then began the monumental task of rebuilding a severely damaged department. Of 14 full and part time faculty at the time, six, including five Full Professors, did not return to active service for one reason or another. It was not until 1997 that Dan convinced the Administration to provide the first new replacement position for the Department, its first California archaeologist in twenty years. Over the decade, Dan began to engage more and more in his avocational passions of environmental law and resource management broadly defined.

He is survived by Phyllis Easland Whitney (his wife of 40 years), his children Wendi Whitney Sanoguet, Teresa Fint, Kre Easland, Rhett Easland, Romi Dupre, and Traile Easland, five grandchildren, and one great grandchild.