Visiting Assistant Professor Leslie Shaw, who taught anthropology at the College for fourteen years, died unexpectedly on the evening of August 29 following complications from surgery. She was 57 years old. President Barry Mills and Dean of Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd alerted the Bowdoin community of the loss in an email on Thursday morning.
Shaw arrived at Bowdoin in 1998. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Maine at Orono and holds a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. During her time at Bowdoin, Shaw taught a number of courses ranging from “Indigenous Peoples of North America” to “Archeology of Gender and Ethnicity,” and most recently, “Maya Archeology and Ethnohistory.” Shaw continued to teach courses through the spring of 2012.
Shaw was a widely published archeologist whose work focused on the ancient Maya. According to her faculty research page, Shaw’s specialty in archeology led her to do research in Belize, the American northeast, the high plains of Wyoming, and on Easter Island in Polynesia. She co-directed the Maax Na Archeology Project in Belize with Eleanor King of Howard University, where they studied a two-thousand-year-old Maya site and offered field programs for Bowdoin and Howard students.
Shaw also worked closely with the Native American community in Maine. In 2008, she was named Bowdoin’s Liaison for Native American Affairs, and worked to strengthen connections between the Wabanaki community and the Bates, Bowdoin and Colby campuses.
Shaw is survived her husband, John Cross ’76, who serves as secretary of development and college relations, and by her daughters, Lauren and Audrey.
In their message to the community, Mills and Judd wrote, "As we begin Bowdoin's 211th academic year today, let us each take time to reflect on the life and accomplishments of our friend and colleague, Leslie Shaw, and offer heartfelt condolences and support to John, Lauren, and Audrey, and to everyone suffering today from this profound and unexpected loss."
Grief counseling will be made available to students through the Counseling Service, and details on a memorial service in honor of Leslie Shaw will soon be released.