September 21-22, 2000

 

ITEM 108-2003-R0900       Authorization to Confer the Title of Professor Emeritus of Anthropology upon Dr. Tom E. Roll; Montana State University-Bozeman

 

THAT:                                    Upon the occasion of the retirement of Thomas E. Roll from the faculty of Montana State University, the Board of Regents wishes to express its appreciation for his service to the University, the Montana University System, and the people of the State of Montana.

 

EXPLANATION:                  Dr. Roll received his undergraduate degree from the University of  Montana (Missoula) in 1962.  He completed his work for a Master of Arts degree in Anthropology at the University of Nebraska in 1968, and received a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Washington State University in 1974.  His professional training and research specialization lie in the archaeological study of ancient peoples and cultures of western North America.

 

Dr. Roll joined the Department of Sociology at Montana State University as an assistant professor of anthropology in 1971, and was promoted to Associate Professor of Anthropology in 1978.  He served as Head of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology from 1994 until 2000.  In addition, Dr. Roll has held an appointment as an Associate Curator of Anthropology, Museum of the Rockies since 1976.

 

Dr. Roll has been the core member of the anthropology teaching faculty at Montana State University for much of his career.  During this time he has taught anthropology to over 8,500 MSU undergraduate students.  More than 7,100 of these students have been introduced to the discipline in his popular course Introduction to Anthropology.  In all, Dr. Roll has taught more than twenty different introductory and advanced undergraduate anthropology courses, and he has received high praise for his teaching at all levels.  Students have benefitted greatly from Dr. Roll's courses on Old World Prehistory and Native North America, and they reserve the highest praise for Dr. Roll's innovative and inspiring Replicative Studies Seminar, which provides students with hands-on experience in stone tool manufacture and analysis.  In addition to Dr. Roll's archaeological expertise, for many years he also taught Physical Anthropology and the full array of cultural anthropology courses, including Social and Cultural Anthropology, Language and Culture, Descriptive Linguistics, Social Organization, and Anthropological Theory.  Dr. Roll's courses have been the most popular anthropology courses offered at the university. Throughout his teaching career Dr. Roll's courses set a high standard for the anthropology program and, at the same time, the courses were quite well received by students.  Twice he received an Award of Excellence in teaching from the Montana State University Alumni Association and Bozeman Chamber of Commerce, at the instigation of his students.  He has had an enduring influence on a number of MSU anthropology undergraduates who went on to pursue graduate degrees in this discipline.  In short, Dr. Roll has been the single most important person to establish and maintain a high quality anthropology program at Montana State University.

 

As a scholar and professional archaeologist, Dr. Roll has made important contributions to a better understanding of prehistoric Plains Indian bison hunting, Plains tipi ring studies, and aboriginal lifestyles and adaptations in the Rocky Mountains of northwestern Montana.  The exceptional quality and importance of Dr. Roll's archaeological investigations along the Kootenai River and Koocanusa Reservoir in northwestern Montana led to an invitation to co-author an article for the Smithsonian Institution's seminal series the Handbook of North American Indians (Volume 12: Plateau).  Dr. Roll has become a leading authority on Montana bison kill sites, having conducted extensive investigations at more such sites in Montana than any other professional archaeologist.  His earliest investigations took place at the Bootlegger Trail bison kill on the south shore of Lake Elwell in north-central Montana, where he carried out large scale, meticulous excavations in 1975 and 1976.  The results of that research continue to provide a foundation for the development of new knowledge about bison hunting through comparisons to sites he has subsequently excavated.  These include the Seline bison kill in eastern Montana, Ulm Pishkun bison kill in north-central Montana, and the Yonkee bison kill in southeastern Montana.  The new knowledge on bison hunting stemming from Dr. Roll's research has been of  considerable significance for archaeologists throughout the Great Plains of North America.

 

Much of Dr. Roll's archaeological research has been implemented in order to assist federal and state agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks fulfill their cultural resources management responsibilities.  He has been very successful at conducting high quality scientific research in this context.

 

In addition to his accomplishments in Montana prehistory, Dr. Roll has made significant contributions to the archaeology of Late Prehistoric Period cultures of the Pacific coast in Washington and Oregon.  Through his own extensive excavations at the Minard archaeological site and comparisons with other coastal sites, his research has clarified the range and diversity of adaptive strategies and forms of social organization, and the geographic distributions of these cultural systems in this region.

 

Dr. Roll currently maintains active archaeological research interests and has an ongoing research agenda.  He is nearing completion of several research projects, and recently has negotiated with the Bureau of Land Management to begin field research at a very extensive prehistoric stone quarry near White Sulphur Springs, Montana, where ancient Native Peoples procured chert from which they made tools integral to their livelihood.  Dr. Roll's future projects will continue his longstanding tradition of providing first-rate learning opportunities for MSU anthropology students.

 

Throughout his career, Dr. Roll has engaged in numerous public outreach activities that have reflected well on MSU and that have strongly benefited the public.  He has given generously of his time and expertise for many years to teach students from grade school through Elderhostel about the joys and trials of anthropology.  He has delivered countless slide lectures on Montana prehistory at communities throughout the state.  He held an appointment to the Governor's Preservation Review Board from 1979 through 1985.  More recently, Dr. Roll served as an advisor to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, & Parks as they developed an archaeological interpretive display on bison hunting by prehistoric Native American peoples at  Ulm Pishkun State Park Visitor Center.  Dr. Roll truly exemplifies a life of service to anthropology in Montana, on the Great Plains/Rocky Mountains and in the Pacific Northwest.  His record of achievement as a teacher at Montana State University is unmatched and his many contributions to the pursuit of anthropology and the promotion of archaeology to the people of the state of Montana warrant the recognition of emeritus status. 

 

For these and other contributions, the Board of Regents of Higher Education is pleased to confer upon Dr. Tom E. Roll the rank of Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Montana State University and wishes him well for many pleasant years in the future.