Meet Our Lecturers

Bill Murray was born in State College, Pennsylvania, and grew up as a "townie," next to Penn State University, where his father was head of the History Department. In the 1960s, Murray's parents bought a 30-foot sloop and spent summers in the Virgin Islands living aboard with their three kids. Murray learned how to dive, saw first-hand the influence of the sea over those who live along its shores, and faced shipwreck more than once. When he went to Penn State, and then Penn, he became captivated by Greek and Roman culture and decided to move to Greece to study ancient port cities for his Ph.D. dissertation. Ever since learning of the discovery of a complete warship ram just south of Haifa in November 1980, Murray has been obsessed with extracting evidence from the weapon to understand ancient galley warfare.  He is now is the Mary and Gus Stathis Professor of Greek History and the Director of the Ancient Studies Center at the University of South Florida, and recent publications include The Age of Titans (2012, Oxford University Press).  Professor Murray is a past AIA Norton Lecturer, and was the 2013/2014 AIA Bass Lecturer.

Dimitri Nakassis is Associate Professor with the Department of Classics, University of Toronto, and holds his degrees from the University of Texas at Austin (Ph.D. and M.A.), and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (B.A.).  His areas of specialization include Greek archaeology, especially the Late Bronze Age, Linear B  and early writing systems, and survey archaeology.  Professor Nakassis is co-director for the Western Argolid Regional Project, and his recent publications include KE-RA-ME-JA: Studies Presented to Cynthia W. Shelmerdine, co-editor, (Prehistory Monographs 46, INSTAP, 2014), and Individuals and Society in Mycenaean Pylos (Mnemosyne Supplements, History and Archaeology of Classical Antiquity 358, 2013).

Professor Nakassis has been named a 2015 MacArthur Foundation Fellow for his work on transforming our understanding of prehistoric Greek Societies.

Michael C. Nelson is Associate Professor of Art History at Queens College, City University of New York.  He holds his degrees from the University of Toronto (Ph.D. and MA), and the University of Minnesota, and his areas of specialization are Bronze Age Aegean Architecture, and Greek and Roman architecture.  Professor Nelson is Co-Director and Architect for the excavations at Omrit in Israel, and his current publication projects include The Temple Complex at Horvat Omrit, Volume 1: The Architecture (E.J. Brill, USA, 2015) and “The Architecture of the Palace of Nestor” in The Minnesota Pylos Project: 1990 – 1998 (Oxford: Archaeopress/British Archaeological Reports, 2015).


Dr. Neyland is the Head of the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the U.S. Navy's Naval History and Heritage Command.  He holds his degrees from Texas A&M University, and his areas of specialization are underwater archaeology, naval archaeology, and historical archaeology; his extensive fieldwork includes serving as Director of the recovery operations for the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, of the excavation of John Paul Jones' birthplace, and of the survey and excavation of the War of 1812 ship U.S.S. Scorpion.

After eighteen years at Franklin College, seventeen as President and one as Chancellor, Dr. Erik Nielsen stepped down in May 2013, having been accorded the title of President Emeritus.

Franklin College, now Franklin University, is a fully accredited, (MSCHE, and Swiss Univ. Comm.) baccalaureate and MSc granting American institution of higher learning, located in Lugano, Switzerland. It is the only foreign institution to be recognized as a Swiss University by the Swiss University Commission. Prior to accepting this post Dr. Nielsen had served variously as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Professor of Art History at the University of Evansville (Indiana), Dean of Humanities and Arts at Trinity University (Texas), Director of the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome (Stanford University) and Chair of the Department of Classics at Bowdoin College (Maine). He received his B.A. and M.A. in Classics from the State University of New York at Buffalo and his Ph.D. in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology from Bryn Mawr College (Philadelphia).

The recipient of numerous archeological and administrative grants, Dr. Nielsen has remained active in undergraduate teaching in the U.S. and abroad throughout his administrative career. He has directed two doctoral dissertations, one for Bryn Mawr College and one for Brown University. He has been a fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities as well as the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada. In addition he has directed and/or co-directed an on-going archeological excavation in Italy (Poggio Civitate) for the past forty years. He is an Elected Foreign Member of the Istituto Nazionale di Studi Etruschi ed Italici. Dr. Nielsen has served as Vice President of the Board of Trustees of the Etruscan Foundation (USA) and serves on the Editorial Board for the archaeological journal, Etruscan Studies. He has been a consultant to Time-Life publications for their archaeological series on the Etruscans. He was involved in the design and renovation of an archaeological museum outside the city of Siena to house material from his excavation. He curated an exhibition of artifacts from the site for the Exhibition, “I Principi di Murlo”, sponsored by the Banca del Gottardo, Lugano and dislayed in the Galleria Gottardo, Lugano, June 2006- August 2006.

The site of Murlo has produced one of the earliest monumental buildings uncovered in Italy to date. The complex, situated on top of a hill, in the heart of Tuscany consists of a series of buildings, which date to the seventh and sixth century B.C. The site is best known for its remarkable architectural terracotta roof decorations as well as its wealth of luxury items, associated with the inhabitants. For 49 years the excavation has served as a training ground for young, international scholars of archaeology, Classics and related disciplines, many of whom are currently working in the field. Material from the site has been incorporated in archaeological exhibitions around the world.

Dr. Nielsen has served as president of the American Association of International Colleges and Universities (AAICU), and for six years was a member of the Board of Directors of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC). Until this year he served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Swiss American Chamber of Commerce, Lugano. While in Switzerland, he was elected as President of Rotary International, (Lugano Lago), the first foreign member elected to the club and its first non - Swiss President. Upon stepping down he was recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow. Dr. Nielsen was elected as a Legate of the “Lega del Chianti”, an organization with an 800 year history, and he is an elected member of the Savile Club, London. In May, 2014 Dr. Nielsen was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Franklin University for his contributions to higher education and for bringing his institution to university status in Switzerland. He currently serves as a Senior Consultant in Higher Education for the consulting firm, Kaludis Consulting, in Washington DC.


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