Anna Benjamin— 1994 Martha and Artemis Joukowsky Distinguished Service Award
The Archaeological Institute of America's Award for Distinguished Service goes today to Anna Shaw Benjamin, Professor Emerita of Douglass College, Rutgers University. But it probably comes as no surprise, at least to some in the audience, that the 1972 AlA Council earlier passed, by acclamation, a resolution recognizing Anna on her retirement as Editor of Archaeology magazine. It stressed her five-year editorship, describing her as selflessly diligent, imaginative, and determined. As was typical in those days, the editorship was unpaid, except for the honor, but it was distinguished service of the first order. Many felt that, as Editor, Anna expanded the magazine's archaeological content, as she was to do later with the content of the archaeology program at Rutgers. By opening up the magazine to a broader world, she surely prepared her readers for the ecumenical Archaeology it has become.
Our honoree received both undergraduate and graduate education at the University of Pennsylvania (M.A. 1947, Ph.D. 1955) and at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. At the latter she held two fellowships, being a Thomas Day Seymour Fellow (1948/1949) and a Fulbright Fellow (194911950). She learned to turn a spade at the Agora and years later took it up again at the Aphrodisias excavations.
Anna Benjamin commenced her devoted teaching career in 1951, as Instructor in Classical Languages and Humanities at Juniata College, a small institution in Pennsylvania, which she left for the University of Missouri-Columbia after receiving her Ph.D. in 1955. There, over almost a decade, she moved from Instructor in Classics and Archaeology to Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor, and Chair. When Douglass College beckoned, she came as Professor (1964) and over the years until her retirement in 1987, she served as Chair, and Graduate Director in the Department, and developed an innovative program in archaeology that received approval by the state of New Jersey. Rutgers awarded her a number of grants and fellowships and although retired she presently serves as Co-Adjunct Professor, substituting on occasion for faculty at both Rutgers and Drew Universities. To say that she was popular with her students is an understatement; the better word former AlA President Martha Sharp Joukowsky used is "adored!"
To return to the AlA, Anna Benjamin served many years on the Governing Board, organized an important symposium for the 1980 Annual Meeting, "Archaeology: Reason or Revelation?," and in 1990 was appointed Chair of the Publications Committee, charged with reactivating the Monographs program. Anna and the committee began this difficult process, and when the first monograph in the new series, Nick Eiteljorg's The Entrance to the Athenian Acropolis before Mnesicles, was accepted, she commenced a labor above and beyond the call of duty. Anna took on the full editing job, selected the book designers, always aware that the Eiteljorg volume would be the model for the series. She advised, directed, and consulted with the author and designers over and over until the job was done, even though her position as Chair and committee member had been concluded. Incoming Chair, Ernestine S. Elster, working to organize the entire publication process, accepted this truly distinguished service with enormous gratitude. To cap it off, Anna Shaw Benjamin took on the daunting task of editing the papers of a colloquium from the New Orleans Annual Meeting. This volume, Recent Excavations in Israel: A View to the West, by Seymour Gitin and seven colleagues has become the first number in the new Colloquium and Conference Papers series. Anna said the Gitin manuscript was accepted while she headed the Monographs Committee and she considered it her responsibility to see it through. And so she has, admirably.
In academia we are all challenged by research, but some of us are drawn even more to teaching. In Anna's case the exciting opportunity of introducing young minds to a multidimensional world drew her talents to the fore. Colleagues and students remember her as stimulating, open, and hard-working. To the AlA publications units of Archaeology, the Monographs New Series, and the Colloquium and Conference Papers she gave distinguished service, and her best editorial skills with humor and patience.
Anna Shaw Benjamin, the AlA is proud to present this Distinguished Service Award and thanks you for your commitment, enthusiasm, and generosity of spirit; we feel fortunate to have received some of your gifts.