Leslie C. Shaw

Leslie C. Shaw, visiting assistant  professor of anthropology, died August 29, 2012, in Portland, from complications following surgery at Maine Medical Center. She was known as an especially effective teacher and valued mentor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

She worked closely with leaders, educators, and students among the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Micmac, and Maliseet nations of the Wabanaki confederation, and with her counterparts at Colby and Bates as part of the WCBB Consortium. Each spring she led a team of Bowdoin students and faculty to tribal and community schools to offer enrichment programs designed to encourage students to consider college as a possible option and as a goal. For each of the past four years she organized the Wabanaki Arts Festival that brought artists, drum groups, and dancers to the Bowdoin campus. She was an advisor to the College’s Native American Student Organization and was a passionate advocate for broadening educational opportunities for Native American students. She was born on July 8, 1955, in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Bethesda, Md. She developed a lifelong interest in archaeology and anthropology while she was an undergraduate at the University of Maine at Orono. She earned a master’s degree in anthropology at the University of Wyoming in 1980 and a doctorate in anthropology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1991. It was there that she met her husband, John R. Cross ’76, Bowdoin’s Secretary of Development and College Relations. They married in 1986. Over the course of her career she developed expertise in each of the areas of the world in which she worked: the forests and coastlines of Maine, the high plains of Wyoming, the isolation of Easter Island in the Pacific, the urban landscapes of Boston and Salem, and the jungles and savannas of the Maya Lowlands of Central America. A highly regarded researcher and colleague, she published numerous articles in scholarly journals on each of these geographic areas, was the author of nearly 50 technical reports, and delivered dozens of professional papers at national and international conferences. She began her teaching career at the Harvard University Summer School and held positions at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the University of Massachusetts at Boston, and the University of Southern Maine. She was a fellow at the Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute at Radcliffe
College from 1993 to 1994 and was an archaeologist with the National Park Service. She came to Bowdoin in 1998. In 2008, she was named the Liaison for Native American Affairs in the President’s Office. She was a member of the Society for American Archaeology and a member of the Board of the Maine Archaeological Society for many years. She edited The Maine Archaeological Society Bulletin, developed the Society’s website, coordinated the activities and publicity for Maine Archaeological Awareness Month, and worked to expand the understanding of Maine’s archaeological heritage in public school curricula. She was a member of the board and a past president of the Pejepscot Historical Society in Brunswick, and she was a member of the Town and College Club. She is survived by her husband, John R. Cross ’76; daughters Lauren T. Cross and Audrey L. Cross; her parents, John and Ann Shaw; sisters Julie Shaw Lutts and Jennifer L. Shaw; and brothers Mark C. Shaw and John H. Shaw.