The Center for Environment and Society at Washington College announces the retirement of Dr. John L. Seidel, the Director of the Center for Environment & Society (CES), and the Lammot du Pont Copeland Associate Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Studies. Seidel will retire in June of this year.
In 1998, John arrived at Washington College, with the charge of developing an archaeology program. His wife, archaeologist Liz Seidel, joined the College the following year, and together they developed the program, an archaeology lab, an extensive internship program, and offered annual summer field schools in archaeology. John worked with Prof. Jeanette Sherbondy to establish Anthropology as a major, and he collaborated with former CES Director Wayne Bell to bring a Geographic Information System (GIS) program to Washington College.
In 2007, after a year as interim Director, Seidel was named the Director of CES, and he has served the College in that position, alongside joint appointments in Anthropology and Environmental Science and Studies, ever since. Seidel has regularly taught courses in environmental studies, environmental and marine archaeology, and historic preservation.
Over the past 15 years, Seidel has built CES—one of the College’s three signature Centers of Excellence—into a nationally-prominent research, action, and education powerhouse. Today, CES has a staff of 28, as well as between 40 to 100 student employees in a typical semester. The Center has an endowment of almost $25 million, an annual pipeline of more than $500,000 in annual giving, and a portfolio of $3.5 million in grants. Since 2007, Seidel and his dynamic team, working with the Office of College Advancement, the Board of Visitors and Governors, and the CES Advisory Board, have secured more than $70 million in grants, gifts and contracts—a unique achievement in the long history of the College. All of the Center’s grants are student-centered, providing powerful experiential learning, working on real-world projects. In 2014, his work was recognized with the College’s Distinguished Service Award.
Seidel earned his Bachelor of Arts from Drew University, where he double-majored in Political Science and Anthropology. He earned Master’s degrees in Anthropology and American Civilization and a Ph.D. in American Historical Archeology from the University of Pennsylvania, conducting excavations in the Middle East and Latin America. Before coming to Washington College, Seidel taught at Rutgers and at the University of Maryland College Park, where he served as co-director of the Archaeology in Annapolis Program, developed a GIS laboratory for the Department of Anthropology, and guided the pioneering use of GIS research to manage historic preservation in the Annapolis Historic District. Before moving to Washington College, he ran the marine archaeology division for a major consulting firm, finding and exploring shipwrecks up and down the east coast.
Seidel has served as a mentor for hundreds of students across a variety of majors at the College. Fortunately for CES, upon retirement in June, Seidel will become a Senior Fellow, a position that will allow continued benefit from his wisdom, vision, and energy.
CES invites the community to celebrate Seidel’s career and legacy at a reception on April 22, 2022, from 3:30-5:00 pm at Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall located at 485 S. Cross Street in Chestertown.