Bob Mishler

Bob Mishler Distinguished Retired Faculty Homecoming 2016

Bob Mishler
Distinguished Retired Faculty
Homecoming 2016

Bob Mishler joined Highlands in 1969 as the university’s first full-time anthropology faculty member, the beginning of a 38-year career with the university. He established the university’s first anthropology laboratory in 1970 and directed it until his retirement in 2007.

The Indiana native said his interest in anthropology was sparked when he was a young college graduate teaching at an adult trade school in Nigeria from 1960-1961. After returning to the U.S. he taught social studies before returning to graduate school at the University of Colorado – Boulder to earn his master’s degree in anthropology.

“Anthropology provides a framework for how to understand human existence and fits my view of the world,” Mishler said. “The world has a tremendous amount of antiquity, and everything in it is part of an infinite process of change over time.”

During his tenure at Highlands, Mishler conducted 35 annual field archeological investigations with his students, collecting many of the artifacts that are still part of the university’s anthropology laboratory.

“What’s unique about the archaeology in Northern New Mexico is its interplay between the pueblo worlds to the west and the High Plains dwellers to the east,” Mishler said.

The archeological field schools were centered primarily at the Tecolote Pueblo and the Tinsley Site, a small pueblo. Both are within 20 minutes of Highlands.

“Working with students in the field is a total immersion experience. You are training students in an academic arena, but they’re also working as a team in the sun and dust. Field school provides a foundation for building a picture of ancient pasts, but it’s only a beginning,” Mishler said.

A major focus of Mishler’s research was cultural resource surveys used to identify and protect cultural history. He secured approximately $1 million in archaeological grants for Highlands during his tenure.

Highlands anthropology professor Warren Lail was one of the people who nominated Mishler for the distinguished retired faculty honor.

“Bob Mishler was a beloved professor at Highlands and a kind mentor to me when I first arrived at Highlands eights years ago,” said Lail, who is also interim dean of graduate studies. “Bob is revered by students who studied under him. He continues to contribute to the Highlands and Las Vegas communities. Bob is a true treasure.”

Mishler has always been deeply rooted in historic preservation and planning in Las Vegas, culminating with receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division in 2010.

“Very rapid changes are destabilizing to humanity, but historical preservation provides a grounding, a reference, for the past,” Mishler said.

His service on the City of Las Vegas Design Review Board began in 1974 and he is the current chair. Mishler was a co-founder of both the Friends of the City of Las Vegas Rough Rider Museum in 1997, which he chairs, and the Las Vegas Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation.

“This fall the museum is publishing a photo history book of Las Vegas from 1845-1935 featuring photos that mostly haven’t been published before,” Mishler said.