Arthur Campa to retire
Longtime professor and administrator reflects on his time at MSU Denver.
July 26, 2017
Art Campa has had a lot of roles in his 24 years at MSU Denver: Professor. Researcher. Academic leader. And… alpaca aficionado?
Serving as associate dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences from 2008 to 2016 and as a professor of anthropology from 1993 to 2008, Campa also found time to launch the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), which provides academic, financial and social support for migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their children.
Campa also has served as interim department chair of the departments of social work and earth and atmospheric sciences. And while he plans to keep working with CAMP in a limited capacity after his retirement at the end of July, we caught up with him to find out what’s next.
What will you do in retirement?
I’m going to continue working with CAMP on a part-time basis, but I’ll have time for writing. I’m trying to finish a case study on my development work in Peru. Of course, there’s a lot of things around the house that need to be done, including improving the facilities for our alpaca herd.
You have an alpaca herd?
We have a small herd of alpacas — three. My work in Peru involved getting an alpaca cooperative going, so we figured we’d better be a part of that, so we got our first alpaca in 2001. My wife takes the wool — she’s a fiber artist (or professional weaver) — and she makes her products. It could be anything from a shawl to a sweater to a tapestry — you name it.
What has it meant to you be a Roadrunner since 1993?
A number of different things. I was able to design and teach courses more in line with my field of anthropology. I’ve enjoyed interaction with the students and the wide diversity of students we have here. I’ve enjoyed being involved with my CAMP program students, too. There’s a satisfaction I have here that I didn’t have at my previous institution at CU-Boulder.
Tell us how taking your position at MSU Denver affected your career.
It meant a new opportunity to teach. I was in an administrative role. I could explore new options here. I had a greater flexibility, and I could seek new opportunities for grant proposals. In my earlier years, one of my colleagues was Adriann Wycoff, and she helped establish the Family Literacy Center. She went on to write proposals for several new programs, and she was able to expand the outreach to the community and the Latino population in particular. I was part of that in the very beginning. It was a new opportunity to expand and find new areas.
How has the University changed?
The faculty has increased, and there’s a greater array of course offerings. For myself, the growth and expansion of the Office of Sponsored Research Programs has certainly been great. It’s a more receptive atmosphere to write proposals.
What was your favorite course to teach?
“Exploring Folklore” — I like dealing with folkloric cultural traditions found on a worldwide basis. I learned a lot of folkloric tradition — my paternal grandmother collected folklore, and my father was a folklorist. As a young kid, I accompanied him as he was interviewing people in rural New Mexico and Colorado. My father was an anthropologist, and as a kid I also had the opportunity to live in Lima, Peru, for two years, and this further stimulated my interest in folkloric traditions.
How about a grant program?
The CAMP program — it’s providing new educational opportunities for students of a rural, agricultural background — first-generation, low-income — they’re opportunities that in many cases they wouldn’t otherwise have.
You’ve had several positions at MSU Denver. Do other academics have as varied a career as you?
It’s what each person chooses to do for himself or herself. I like the varied experience I’ve had here — it’s nice to have different experiences. Looking at the before-and-after of my experiences, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot. Sometimes it’s hard to measure, but I have no regrets.
What will you miss about MSU Denver?
I’ll miss my colleagues and interacting with students.