Matt Reilly, ANTH alum and assistant professor at the City College of New York, made a gift this spring to the Department of Anthropology in an effort to support field and travel experience opportunities for students.
Aware that students often need to prioritize earning wages over field opportunities, Reilly hopes his gift will allow more students at UMD to round out their studies with the types of field work and study abroad experiences he participated in, and ultimately make the field of anthropology more equitable and inclusive.
“The inspiration for the gift was to make sure that no student really had to think about the cons of doing field work versus working versus getting all their experiences,” Reilly said. “I quickly learned in the classroom that, while we're very much in our own little community bubbles when we're on a campus, that doesn't preclude a more global experience and understanding that what we do as anthropologists or archaeologists is a really global endeavor.”
Reilly hadn’t kicked off his UMD career as an anthropology student—he was initially a music major who ultimately double-majored in American studies and anthropology.
By graduation, Reilly was confident anthropology was the field he wanted to pursue. He entered a master's program at the University of Chicago in 2008, then went on to pursue a Ph.D. at Syracuse University from 2010 to 2014. During that time, he received a Fulbright scholarship for the dissertation research he was conducting while living in Barbados.
Following the completion of his dissertation, Reilly moved to Providence, Rhode Island to work at Brown University’s Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology as a postdoctoral researcher and professor. Reilly held that position for three years, then in 2017, became an assistant professor on the tenured track in the City College of New York’s (CUNY) Department of Anthropology, Gender Studies and International Studies. Reilly now holds this position while also helping train Ph.D. and master’s students in the CUNY Graduate Center.
Reilly credits the University of Maryland for providing his first experiences with diverse cultural perspectives and opportunities to appreciate anthropology in the context of global communities and different university settings.
“I started everything off with my anthropology training at Maryland, and then followed a trajectory where I'm now part of an anthropology department myself,” Reilly said. “So, full circle in a lot of ways, and it definitely was sparked by the first courses that I took at UMD, College Park.”
The university’s anthropology curriculum and its array of programs is something that Reilly remains grateful for—and hopes more Terps can experience.
“I was fortunate enough to get the experience in the field, and I wish that was a reality for every student,” he said. “If this [gift] shapes the career of a student early on and provides them with a leg up to think about what they can do in grad school, moving forward, then I know it'll be put to good use."