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Dr. David Griffith

Dr. David Griffith Awarded 2013 Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor

GREENVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 19, 2013) — On Monday, August 19, East Carolina University’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences inducted another member of its faculty into the ranks of distinguished professor, an honor bestowed at the beginning of the academic year when a qualifying individual is chosen for the award. This year’s recipient marks the fifteenth chosen for the distinguished honor.

Dr. David Griffith, professor of anthropology and interim director of the ECU Institute for Coastal Science and Policy, was named the 2013 Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor during the college’s annual faculty convocation held in Wright Auditorium.

“Pleased. Honored. Happy. Enriched. Satisfied. However many words describe my feelings toward this wonderful moment of recognition, the award confirms that the long, hard and ultimately fulfilling work of being an ECU professor can fortify an identity that for 30 years has been entangled in, and bolstered by, the accomplishments, growth and success of this great university,” said Griffith.

The Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professorship is one of the most prestigious at ECU and is conferred upon a professor whose career exemplifies a commitment to and a love for knowledge and academic life, as demonstrated by outstanding teaching and advising, research and creative productivity, and professional service.

“I have always loved my work at ECU, in large part because of the many fine faculty members in anthropology and in the Institute for Coastal Science and Policy that I have had the good fortune to work with,” said Griffith. “Early in my career, Keats Sparrow once said to me, ‘You are a good citizen of this university, David.’ At the time, I don’t believe I gave his remark the thought it deserved, but as I have grown older I have come to appreciate what good citizenship means in a university that has become a dynamic, driving force in Eastern North Carolina.”

Throughout his nearly 30 years of academic service to ECU, Griffith has displayed the qualities and characteristics required of a Distinguished Professor.

Exhibiting his love for knowledge and academic life, Griffith has taught many courses at ECU, including introduction to anthropology; theory in anthropology; special projects in applied anthropology; economic anthropology; ethnographic methods; contemporary problems; and cultures of the Caribbean, among others. Over the years, he has mentored many students, serving as a member on 10 graduate student theses and dissertation committees, and as committee chairperson for four masters and doctoral students. Currently, he is serving as chairperson on an additional four graduate students’ committees.

A colleague wrote in a letter of nomination, “His commitment to student learning is undeniable. David’s involvement of undergraduate students in his various research activities are invaluable, and have spurred many an undergraduate to go on to seek graduate degrees, or have helped them in obtaining well-paying jobs that require research skills of one kind or another.”

Contributing to the professional realm, Griffith is a member of the Southern Coastal Heritage Committee; American Anthropological Association; American Ethnological Society; Society for the Anthropology of Work; Rural Sociological Society; Association for Consumer Research; American Academy of Poets; Modern Poetry Association; and Fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology. He currently serves as associate editor for the journal, American Anthropologist; is a former contributing editor for the Society for the Anthropology of Work; and is former assistant editor for the Florida Journal of Anthropology.

Griffith’s primary research areas are within the realm of cultural anthropology, best recognized for his research on labor migration, and the decline of traditional fisheries, specifically how this has affected the economic well being of coastal communities in North Carolina.

Over the course of his career, Griffith has authored or co-authored 35 peer-reviewed journal articles, 25 articles in edited volumes, 21 technical reports, and 8 books. He has been an invited presenter at more than 40 professional meetings. In addition, he has been a primary investigator or co-investigator on more than 50 research grants totaling $7.1 million.

Letters of nomination from colleagues within and outside the ECU community laud Griffith for contributions to his field, adding to the impressive case for inducting him into the prestigious group of Thomas Harriot Distinguished Professors.

“Very clearly, David Griffith is a recognized, national and international leader in the field of anthropology, and more broadly, in the human dimensions of environmental change,” writes one ECU colleague. “He distinguishes himself not only through his publications, but by his contributions to professional organizations and service activities that speak to his dedication to ICSP, the Department of Anthropology, Harriot College and ECU.”

An external nomination letter reads, “I think Dr. Griffith’s scholarship, while competitive by contemporary standards, is most impressive for the intangibles he possesses as a thoughtful, passionate scholar doing important work without fanfare, and throughout, finding time to do some creative writing. I find that to be inspiring and distinguishing.”

Griffith is a graduate of the University of Florida, where he received his PhD in anthropology (‘83). He received his MA and BA degrees in anthropology from the University of Iowa (’79 and ’73, respectively), and conducted graduate study in English and creative writing at the University of Iowa (’75) and the University of Montana (’77). In 1984, Griffith joined the faculty of ECU as a professor in the Department of Anthropology. In 2001 he became a senior scientist in the ECU Institute for Coastal Science and Policy, and this August, ECU Provost Marilyn Sheerer named Griffith as the interim director of the Institute.

For additional information, contact Griffith at 252-328-1748 or griffithd@ecu.edu.