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Ben Reina

P.h.D ’57

I received my Ph.D. at the time when Anthropology separated from Sociology, but we were still in the same department. So my degree was in Cultural Anthropology with a minor in Sociology. It was in 1957. Indeed, a long time ago.

Professors John Gillen and John Honigmann were my important mentors.

Then I took a position at the University of Pennsylvania in the Anthropology Department, under Loren Eiseley. In addition, I was a curator of the Latin American section of the museum. I stayed with this institution from 1957 to 1990 with some additional years to complete an important exhibit and publications. I served as chairman of the department for five years.
I was honored with an invitation from John Honigman to consider a position at UNC, but unfortunately it was not possible for me to leave Pennsylvania due to my academic commitments.

Anyway, I have never received information from the Department of Anthropology at UNC. They should know that I was their first Ph.D., and I’m still alive at the age of 91. My dissertation was published by the Middle American Research Institute at Tulane University (Part I) and the rest under the title “The Law of the Saints” by a commercial publisher.

I knew well the sociologists and I witnessed the first stages of the splitting of the department. But it was Professor Odum who found for me my first teaching job in the Sociology Department at the Women’s College in Greensboro. I worked there for one year before leaving for a year of field work in Guatemala among the Mayan people.

The final oral examination was overwhelming with all the sociologists present, an experience I will never forget. It taught me the role of professors at examination time. The two fields were at an important development in the social sciences, particularly in anthropology, and it was an enormous task for me.

Again, here are some facts in my history at UNC. I went there because I wanted to become a Latin American specialist, and Professor Gillin gave me the opportunity to be his research assistant in a project he had underway. My time at North Carolina was pleasant, and I do remember well all the faculty. I had some good tennis games with Professor Demerath. By the way, his grandson became a student in our department at Penn.

Dunwoody Retirement Village, 3500 West Chester Pike, CH 13 Newton Square, PA. 19073