Reflections on Dr. Goldstein’s Impact

Reflections on Dr. Goldstein’s Impact

With Dr. Goldstein’s official retirement date drawing near the CAP fellows (and one past fellow!) wanted to take some time to reflect on the impact Dr. Goldstein has had on our lives, and the truly unique experience being part of the Campus Archaeology Program has been.


I’ve probably known Dr. Goldstein the longest of any of the fellows. Dr. Goldstein was chair of the Anthropology department when I started at MSU for undergrad in 2003. Because Dr. Goldstein was chair, I didn’t have any classes directly with her. But as a student at the 2005 Saints Rest Field School I got to know Dr. Goldstein, and see her in action in the field. Prior to the field school my focus had been solely physical anthropology; so taking a 6-week archaeology course was slightly outside of my wheelhouse. Dr. Goldstein took the time to encourage me on a particularly frustrating afternoon (I had spent the entire day excavating a tiny, difficult to dig feature that turned out to be a root run) by sharing a personal story from her early days of fieldwork. This moment has always stood out in my mind because not only did Dr. Goldstein recognize that I was having a difficult day, but she specifically took the time to make me feel better about the situation. After completing a master’s program, and spending a few years working and teaching post-grad I decided it was time to pursue a Ph.D. so I contacted Dr. Goldstein again, rather out of the blue, to see if she would be willing to take me on as her student. Thankfully she said yes. So now here I am, wrapping up my third (and final) year as Campus Archaeologist. Dr. Goldstein took a chance on a student with a physical anthropology background not once, but twice. Without the Saints Rest field school I know with 100% certainty that my life, and career, would have taken a very different path.

Dr. Goldstein has been a one of a kind mentor who’s managed to figure out how to be kind, stern, supportive, demanding, flexible, and genuinely concerned with the well being of students (and not just those whose she is chair for or on their committee) all at the same time. I know that I have benefited in invaluable and innumerable ways from her guidance. So thank you Dr. Goldstein, for taking a chance on me and for providing me with so many wonderful experiences. – Lisa Bright


It is difficult to sum up Dr. Goldstein with mere adjectives. I could say she’s brilliant, funny, and kind, that she’s tough and fiercely loyal to her students. These words fall flat. If I had to choose a snapshot to capture her, I would recall the early hours of a brisk October morning when three graduate students and a load of equipment folded into her Subaru and headed to northern Michigan to investigate a potential archaeological site. Only one of us was formally a student of Midwest archaeology—the other two primarily biological anthropologists—but all of us wanted to learn how to differentiate burial mounds from geological formations. Others might have baulked at the idea of taking us on such a venture, but not Dr. Goldstein. Since I have known her—and by all accounts, long before then—she has never hesitated to take chances on interested students, to believe in their capabilities, to provide them with opportunities to learn new skills, and to have faith that these skills would serve them well as anthropologists, regardless of their chosen sub-disciplines.

Once at the site, Dr. Goldstein never complained as we navigated uneven and slippery terrain, though her refurbished joints must have protested. This came as no surprise from a woman who once showed up to a CAP meeting after breaking a rib earlier that morning. At the site, she navigated many roles at once: expert, mentor, confidant. She explained the archaeological process to the landowner clearly and professionally. She directed students what to look for, how, and why. She listened with interest to the landowner’s hypotheses about the site and, even after determining there were no mounds present, stayed to hear stories of his family’s history on the land. On the long drive home she shared her own stories – some hilarious, some inspiring, some infuriating. She recalled how, as a young archaeologist she fought to be paid the same as a less experienced male colleague, even if it meant taking on the responsibility of meal preparation for an entire field school. This story left us not with a sense of bitterness but with awe over her ability to blaze trails with skill, grit, and remarkably, grace. Dr. Goldstein has always been adept at finding paths forward and never hesitates to help students to find theirs. Though she might be the busiest woman alive, she has always made time to listen to my and my fellow students’ concerns, provide advice, and help us discover solutions we never knew possible.

It has been an honor and a privilege to get the chance to work with such a brilliant mind, talented archaeologist, and overall incredible human being. Thank you Dr. Goldstein, and enjoy your well-deserved retirement!   – Mari Isa


The first time I came to MSU was for the 2012 Midwest Archaeology Conference, which was held in East Lansing that year. I had recently received a masters in archaeology and was doing CRM work in Illinois, and I had begun questioning whether I really wanted a career in cultural resource management or if I should pursue a future in academia and apply to Ph.D. programs. Dr. Goldstein was the primary coordinator of the conference, and despite being incredibly busy, she was kind enough to take the time to sit down with me and discuss my opportunities as MSU. The personal attention she provided a timid, uncertain student she had never heard of before really made an impression on me.

I ultimately ended up coming to MSU for my doctoral program, and although Dr. Goldstein is not on my committee, she has always welcomed me to her door to ask for advice. One of the primary reasons I joined Campus Archaeology was to benefit more from Dr. Goldstein’s mentorship, and her support of my research during my tenure as a CAP fellow has resulted in an incredibly successful project exploring historic foodways on campus. She has made a huge impact on my understanding of and approach to public outreach and creative collaborations with diverse programs and scholars to increase the visibility of cultural heritage in a campus setting. Her vision for projects and tenacity in advocating for our program and for the cultural heritage of MSU has set an example that I will take with me as I move forward in my career.

Thank you, Dr. Goldstein. Michigan State University has benefitted from you bringing its own history to the attention of the public and demonstrating how and why campus archaeology is important and necessary. And all CAP fellows, past and present, have benefitted from your mentorship and the example you have set as an advocate for the cultural heritage. You will be missed here at MSU, although you will never be fully gone. – Dr. Susan Kooiman


It’s hard for me to describe the impact that Dr. Goldstein has had on me and my scholarship without descending into hyperbole! I came to MSU thinking I knew exactly what I wanted to study in anthropology, but I was fortunate enough to take Dr. Goldstein’s mortuary analysis class and then be hired as a CAP fellow. Through her encouragement and with her assistance, I was able to expand my anthropological interests and knowledge. Between the meetings, the advice, the writing help, the job search strategizing, and the laughs, I am honored to say that Dr. Goldstein has been one of my greatest mentors. She showed me how to be a scholar and a colleague, and she always reminded us when to not take ourselves and our work too seriously. I remember telling her that I *had* to do something once and she said, “…no. You don’t.” It sounds so silly and simple, but her reaction was what I needed to pull myself out of my academic slump and focus on what I was truly interested in pursuing. I credit Dr. Goldstein with helping me pay my bills (thanks!), get a job, keep a job, and most of all, with teaching me that anthropology is so much more than what I thought it would be for me. Happy retirement! – Dr. Amy Michael (and honorary CAP fellow)


Getting to work for Dr. Goldstein in CAP has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as a graduate student at MSU so far. It is absolutely incredible how much knowledge she has about the campus, but not for its own sake, but because she really cares about MSU, its history, and its students, past, present, and future. She has taught me how to conduct meaningful historical research (my personal research is with the Pre Columbian Maya), but also how to just how to be a better researcher in general. This includes how to interact with and incorporate the public into the research, how to deal with the bureaucracy, and most importantly how to advocate for someone or for myself. What is very apparent when having any kind of conversation with Dr. Goldstein is that she advocates for her students and will help them achieve what they need to conduct meaningful research. She goes to bat for her students more than anyone I’ve ever met and it is so inspiring to see not only how much she cares for people and their success, but also for their research even if it is only tangentially connected to her own. She is the epitome of a collaborative researcher, or even a researcher in general, and the determination she has to get things done is absolutely awe-inspiring. I hope that one day I’ll be even half as good of a researcher and a person as Dr. Goldstein has been her entire life. Thank you so much for everything you have done not only for me, but also for archaeology, anthropology, MSU, and the countless people and institutions who have been truly lucky to have come into contact with you. – Jack Biggs


Dr. Goldstein has been a wonderful mentor throughout my time at Michigan State University; however, her mentoring began before I even applied. When I was looking for undergraduate programs during high school, she agreed to meet with me and took time out of her day to give me advice about archaeology programs. From then on, I have been able to turn to her for guidance through my undergraduate and graduate career and I will be forever grateful. Thank you Dr. Goldstein for all of your assistance and mentorship over the years and I hope you enjoy your retirement. – Autumn Painter


Thank you Dr. Goldstein for all of your help! During all of the CAP meetings, committee meetings, and road trips, you have always been a source for good advice and a positive role model. Over the years, I have learned an immense amount through the stories and life experiences that you have shared with us, and have grown as a scholar because of them.  Thank you again for everything and I hope you enjoy retirement! – Jeff Painter


So thank you Dr. Goldstein, for everything that you have done and continue to do for all of us.



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