Phoenix College Highlight - Faculty - William Schaffer

At Phoenix College, we're so fortunate to have such an incredibly talented faculty and staff. Throughout the year, we want to take a moment and recognize all of the really unique and interesting things that they are doing both on-campus and off.

Today, we get the skeletons out of our closets and talk with Bioarchaeologist, Professor William Schaffer. 

When did you join the Phoenix College faculty?

I joined the Phoenix College faculty as an adjunct back in 2010. I was recently hired as a Residential Faculty member in the Fall of 2017 and this is my second year of service in that role. I joined the Phoenix College faculty because the school feels like a family. The faculty and staff are very welcoming, and we are all here for the success of the students. The student-focused atmosphere at Phoenix College is unprecedented and it shows in our teaching and mentoring. Each one of my colleagues in the Liberal Arts Department are stellar instructors and I look up to them and aspire to their greatness daily. Being surrounding by such prolific educators provides an environment for me, faculty, students, and Phoenix College to excel and thrive.

What Classes do you teach?

I teach classes in biological anthropology, forensic anthropology, and archaeology, namely, ASM104 Bones, Stones & Human Evolution, ASM275 Forensic Anthropology, ASB222 Buried Cities & Lost Tribes: Old World, and ASB223 Buried Cities & Lost Tribes: New World. I also supervise students in a Service-Learning Experience in Anthropology (ASB282AA) course where students complete 50 service-learning hours at the Pueblo Grande Museum as well as a Special Projects (ASB298AA) class where students either conduct lab research with me on archaeological materials from West Africa or Egypt, and conduct fieldwork in the Tonto National Forest.

What's your area of expertise/what did you study in school :  

My area of expertise is the study of archaeological human bones and skeletal tissues: a field known as bioarchaeology. I specialize in archaeological human skeletons from several areas of the world including ancient Egypt, but also the southeastern US, Caribbean, and West Africa. My master’s and doctoral research focused on the cemetery adjacent to the South Tombs at the New Kingdom city of Amarna in Middle Egypt (c. 1350 BC). This was the city that was constructed during the reign of King Tut’s father Akhenaten.

Current projects: 

My most current fieldwork project with students here at Phoenix College is documenting archaeological finds and features in the Tonto National Forest. This will be the second year that I will lead an expedition to investigate sites dating back thousands of years to the early inhabitants known as the Hohokam-Salado (AD 1–1450 AD) of the Phoenix Basin. We have already identified several different types of pottery, stone tools, and jewelry as well as petroglyphs. I am hoping to soon acquire funding to excavate some of the archaeological sites we are identifying so we can offer future classes such as ASB231 Archaeological Field Methods and ASM265 Laboratory Methods in Archaeology.

Favorite Moment while at Phoenix College: 

Honestly, I have so many favorite moments at Phoenix College, and they keep coming!!! My favorite moments are when students write me an email, message, note, or card and thank me for making anthropology and archaeology interesting, fun, and engaging. At the beginning of this semester, I received a wonderful, heartfelt card from a student, and messages like his reaffirm my choice to be a Phoenix College educator.

About Phoenix College

Phoenix College is one of the 10 colleges in the Maricopa County Community College District, one of the largest community college districts in the nation. Phoenix College offers academic courses leading to associate degrees, university transfer, certificates and short-term job training to more than 11,000 students annually.