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John W. Sheets arrived at UCM from the University of Colorado-Boulder in 1978 to teach anthropology courses and to direct the Museum on Clark Street.
He was among the first UCM faculty to teach abroad, in London and in Maastricht; he chaired the Department of History and Anthropology from 2001 through 2009. Grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Geographic Society, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation supported his population research in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides islands. In 1985, he delivered an invited Mason Conference Lecture to the Annual Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Glasgow. It reported one of the highest rates measured for human twinning on the remote island of Colonsay.
Sheets has presented or published at the British universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Oxford, and Cambridge. On campus, he hosted Prime Minister Harold Wilson in 1984 and paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson in 2006; he served as a Faculty Senate vice president and as a chair of the Academic Council.
During his tenure, the Museum combined with the Archives, re-located to the new Kirkpatrick Library, and welcomed two premier donations, the Nance Middle East Collection and the Schmidt Mesoamerican Collection.
The long-time UCM educator received the Arts and Sciences Achievement Award in 1986, promotion to professor of anthropology in 1987, and the Byler Distinguished Faculty Award in 1991. Three of his students have earned their doctoral degrees. His research and publications continue in Scotland.