The Sul Ross Skyline, September 4, 2008
Retirement for Robert J. Mallouf merely means shifting priorities.
Mallouf, director of the Center for Big Bend Studies at Sul Ross State University since 1995, stepped down from his position Aug. 31. He plans to spend more time with his son, Parker, and publish his past research.
A reception for Mallouf was held Friday, Aug. 29, at 2 p.m. in the University Center's second floor foyer.
Mallouf has spent over 36 years in the archaeological field with the State of Texas, including nearly a quarter-century with the Office of the State Archaeologist, Texas Historical Commission.
Prior to coming to Sul Ross and the CBBS, he worked progressively as field archeologist, survey archaeologist, director of the Department of Archaeological Surveys, director of Archaeological Surveys and Research, assistant State Archaeologist and State Archaeologist.
At Sul Ross, he succeeded Dr. Earl Elam as director of the CBBS. In 13 years, he built a program with a $15,000 budget and a part-time secretary to 17 staff and a $600,000 budget (including a $200,000 state budget and additional private grant funding).
"What I set out to do was to build an archaeology program and to preserve the history portion of the Center that Earl had started," he said.
"When I applied for this position (after Elam's retirement), I felt that Sul Ross was the perfect place."
A native of Brownwood, Mallouf attended Howard Payne University, then transferred to the University of Texas at Austin, where he received a B.A. in Anthropology in 1970. He also studied at the University of California at Berkeley and the American University of Cairo, Egypt, as a scholarship recipient, and received an M.A. in anthropology from UT-Austin in 1985.
Mallouf has divided his time teaching, excavating, administrating and fund-raising since coming to Sul Ross.
He helped establish the Friends of the Center for Big Bend Studies, which has attracted several million dollars in grants and private donations.
The CBBS expansion has allowed them to do contractual archaeology as well, including a major project in Big Bend National Park.
The Center is a pure research organization, able to select what it wants to research, Mallouf says.
He praised his staff, both for their field work and published research, as well as strong support from the Sul Ross administration.
"It's a good time for me to pass this (directorship) on to someone younger," said Mallouf, noting that long-time associate W.A. "Andy" Cloud is now his successor.
"We are four years into a five year research program (the Trans Pecos Archaeological Program) and I am confident we will be able to obtain another five years."
"This university is perfectly situated for an archaeological research program, and it offers potential in other areas as well."
Upon retirement, Mallouf plans to write at least two books on his past research.
"Getting to work in an area that I love and building a program at a small university has been fun, I have enjoyed it," he said. "I think the program has a future and I think we have the people to make it happen."
He hopes that Sul Ross will eventually offer a bachelor's degree program in anthropology (a minor is presently available).
"One of the big things about archaeology is that most people are interested in it for one reason or another," Mallouf said.
"We try to appeal to that basic interest in fund-raising and building a program."