December 4, 2007

Robert Van Kemper

Dedicated students often honor the mentors who guided their academic development. But a new gift to SMU reverses that pattern – the mentor is honoring his former student through a gift to SMU.

A new research endowment fund honoring SMU Anthropology Professor Robert Van Kemper has been established through a bequest from his late mentor and teacher George M. Foster Jr. at the University of California, Berkeley. The Foster Trust provides $250,000 to establish the Robert Van Kemper Endowment Fund for Research in Social and Cultural Anthropology at SMU, supporting training and field research experience for graduate students in anthropology.

Foster, who died in May 2006, was a pioneer in cultural anthropology. He received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from SMU in 1990. Kemper earned his Ph.D. from Berkeley in 1971 as a student of Foster and conducted research with Foster in Mexico. Kemper is continuing the ethnographic and demographic research begun by Foster in 1945 in Tzintzuntzán, Michoacán.

"My summer in Mexico in 1967 set the course for my career. Foster’s endowment will enable future gen­erations of SMU anthropology students to have similar experiences," Kemper says.

Kemper, a cultural anthropologist, joined SMU in 1972 and serves as chair of the Department of Anthro­pology in Dedman College. In addition to his work in Mexico, he conducts research on Mexican-Americans in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.