Home » Arts and Science NotebookSpring 2011

Renowned Anthropologist is Holder of New Rebecca Webb Wilson Chair

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Spence Lee Wilson (left), Rebecca Webb Wilson and Tom Dillehay listen to remarks during Dillehay’s installation as Rebecca Webb Wilson University Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Religion and Culture at Vanderbilt University.

Tom D. Dillehay, internationally recognized for groundbreaking and highly interdisciplinary scientific research, has been named the Rebecca Webb Wilson University Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Religion and Culture at Vanderbilt University.

Dillehay is the first holder of the chair, established by Spence Lee Wilson, BA’64 and his wife, Rebecca Webb Wilson, BA’65. Both are graduates of the College of Arts and Science and longtime supporters of Vanderbilt. The gift was made by Spence Wilson in honor of his wife, who has been a member of the university’s Board of Trust since 1989.

“We feel so privileged to have someone of such international acclaim as is Tom Dillehay to be the first recipient of this chair,” Rebecca Wilson says. “I majored in Spanish in high school and college, which predisposed me to an interest in Latin America, where I have traveled all my adult life. Tom’s reputation as a scholar is undeniably outstanding, but it is Tom Dillehay the creative, dedicated, generous person that we are particularly delighted to have occupy the chair. He sets a high benchmark.” 

Dillehay was previously Distinguished Professor of Anthropology. He has received international and national awards for his research and teaching and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dillehay has served as a consultant to several governments and academic institutions in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Mexico. His work has been featured in numerous publications and broadcast programs, including National Geographic, Scientific American, Nova, Discover, BBC and NPR.

Watch video of Professor Tom D. Dillehay’s April 20 lecture titled “Ontology, Scale, and Time: Inferring the Origins of Andean Religion and its Practice.”

photo credit: Joe Howell

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