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SIL anthropologist honored with endowed chair

GIAL President Dr. David Ross (left) and Dr. Marvin K. Mayers (right) at a 4 November ceremony celebrating the beginning of an endowed chair in Mayers’ name.

GIAL President Dr. David Ross (left) and Dr. Marvin K. Mayers (right) at a 4 November ceremony celebrating the beginning of an endowed chair in Mayers’ name.


Dr. Marvin K. Mayers is a longtime, highly respected and distinguished professor and writer in the field of anthropology. In recognition of his teaching, writing, research and visionary leadership in the field of anthropology studies, the Board of Trustees of the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics established the Marvin K. Mayers Endowed Faculty Chair of Applied Anthropology in 2012. The chair affirms the study of Applied Anthropology as an essential component of the curriculum.

- Statement from GIAL

(November 2012) The Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics (GIAL) has honored retired SIL anthropologist Dr. Marvin K. Mayers by beginning an endowed chair in his name. GIAL faculty, staff, students and guests marked the instatement of the Marvin K. Mayers Endowed Chair with a formal ceremony on 4 November.

The Margaret McKee Memorial Fund was established to finance the chair and has recently surpassed the $25,000 threshold. Fundraising efforts are in process to reach the $1.5 million needed for a fully endowed chair, which will support future named professors and assist in their research and service endeavors.

Mayers, who holds a PhD from the University of Chicago, began serving with SIL in 1952. In addition to the work in language development and culture research that he and his wife Marilyn conducted in the Poqomchi’ community of Guatemala, Mayers served as a faculty member of several academic institutions. During his career, he was head of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Wheaton College, Professor and Dean of the School of Intercultural Studies at Biola University, Adjunct Professor of Linguistics at the University of Texas at Arlington and Professor of Linguistics and Anthropology at GIAL’s predecessor institution.

Mayers served as editor of the significant work Languages of Guatemala (Mouton & Co., 1966) and is the author of numerous publications in a variety of language and culture related disciplines including descriptive linguistics, literacy, sociolinguistics, anthropology, cross-cultural communication, cross-cultural training, lexicography and folklore.

“Dr. Mayers’ influence as an anthropologist in SIL has been formative. He set a standard and a direction for all those coming after him. He was also a visionary educator. For a number of years his serving as a liaison with the administration at UTA enabled hundreds of SIL staff to pursue advanced degrees there at a cost they could afford. He also encouraged and mentored students to go beyond mere class attendance and do fieldwork in the Dallas area or wherever their learning took place.”
Dr. Karl Franklin, SIL Senior Anthropology Consultant and former Vice President of Academic Affairs

“Dr. Mayers inspired many to incorporate anthropological insights into their other areas of research, and this chair will encourage succeeding students to maintain this tradition. We are grateful to the family and friends of the late Mrs. Margaret McKee for initiating this endowment fund.”
– Dr. David Ross, GIAL President


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