Uncovering the past and inspiring the future


Dr. Richard Goddard retires from Adams State

Article by Linda Relyea

two female students stand in foreground measuring depth of plot dr. richard goddard leans against canopy pole in background looking on

Photo courtesy of Dr. Goddard

Secrets of life in long-ago decades, buried beneath layers of sand, wait discovery by the curious who seek knowledge to unlock clues of the past. Anthropology and archaeology fields attract those passionate for answers. Dr. Richard Goddard, at a young age, realized his desire to unearth the history of average individuals and how they functioned in their community.

Fortunately, for many Adams State University students, Goddard shared his inspiration and mentored many students entering the same field. He retired as Adams State emeritus professor of anthropology this spring.

Arriving at Adams State in 2002, one of Goddard's first acts was to reinstate the anthropology program. "When I came here, there was no anthropology taught at Adams State, this despite the fact that some fifteen years earlier there had been an anthropology program widely recognized for the quality of its archaeological research."

Thomas Keller, Class of 2012, had never heard of anthropology before meeting Goddard. "The way he taught was captivating, we used to call it story time with Goddard because when he talked it was always interesting and made everyone listen closely. I still have that passion for anthropology because of him."

Within a few years, Goddard created a minor in anthropology, which eventually developed into a major emphasis within the History, Anthropology, Philosophy, Political Science and Spanish Department. Subsequently, he was instrumental in developing the first, fully online, master's program in Cultural Resource Management in the U.S.

"Along the way, since I practice anthropology as an archaeologist, I established a summer archaeological field school that draws students from around the country and overseas and has won a national award for its inclusiveness," Goddard added.

Field School

As the principal investigator for the Adams State University Field School in Historical Archaeology, Goddard has conducted excavations at two, 19th century Army outposts in Fort Garland, Colo. and Fort Massachusetts, Colo. A central focus of the anthropology program has been the summer field school. It has received international recognition, and in 2015 was recognized for "Gender and Minority Diversity in Archaeological Field Schools" by the Society for Historical Archaeology.

"I started the investigations at Fort Massachusetts in 2010, but I had been working at Fort Garland for seven years prior to that. Fort Massachusetts was the first fort in Colorado, but after five years it was moved and renamed Fort Garland."

In 2007, Delfin Weis, as an undergraduate student at the University of Cambridge, began looking for a field school in the US. He chose the Adams State Field School in Historical Archaeology "I hadn't been home in over a year at that point," said Weis. "The field school is a critical component to one's career and future. Dr. Goddard has created and molded fantastic archaeologists that are his academic legacy."

Goddard's areas of expertise and experience include 19th century military forts in the Southwest; 19th century military life; western mining camps; community development in the West, and prehistoric and historic Native American cultures. He is currently the chair for the San Luis Valley Historical Society Board of Directors.

"As far back as I can remember I had a love for history and a love of discovery." Once in high school, Goddard believed pursuing his passion was more "fantasy" than a career. During the Viet Nam War, Goddard was stationed in Korea, and "revisited my fantasy and decided to make it my reality." After his service in the Army, he completed his master's degree while teaching at a private boarding school in Arizona. "I discovered the enjoyment of teaching others about the profession I loved so much."

Thomas still goes to Goddard for advice and appreciates his continued association with him. "Dr. Goddard has talked to my middle school anthropology classes and inspired younger generations to go to college and become the next generation of anthropologists."

Weis agrees: "Dr. Goddard's passion is alive and well in the students. I can honestly say, that Dr. Goddard has taught many good and insightful archaeologists, all of whom would say that he has had an indelible and beneficial impact on their life and profession.

two male students in authentic reenactment dress pull a small canon behind a female student and dr richard goddard follow

Photo by Daniel Parsons
Inspiring the love of history through reenactment, Dr. Richard Goddard, back left, and his students are often seen in parades pulling a canon down Alamosa Main Street.

In 2011, Goddard received the Adams State Presidential Teaching Award and the Award for Excellence in Research and Publications in 2006.

"As a professor, he keyed into the interests of the individual, prodded them, gave the student more information, and then would often simply guide them to explore a given topic or specialty," Weis added. "He invested himself into the students."

Dr. Ed Crowther, emeritus professor of history, chaired the department during Goddard's tenure. "Dick has been a splendid colleague," Crowther said. "He especially dedicated his time to help struggling students succeed, while mentoring others to go on to graduate school."

Goddard has authored several publications, conference papers and presented at annual conferences on archaeology. He received the Moore Charitable Foundation grant totaling $212,000 for Fort Massachusetts research and Archaeological Field School. He is an active member in the community serving on several boards.

The joy of discovery will always be important to Goddard, but people impacted his tenure the most at Adams State. "I have been extremely fortunate to have had the most remarkable staff at the field school. Year after year, most of them kept returning because of their love for the project. Next to that, I think of the many students who have passed through the field school. Watching them discover the joy of discovery for themselves has been a great reward in itself."

It definitely was not a nine-to-five Monday through Friday job for Goddard. Dressed in authentic reenactment uniforms, he would lead students in parades and supervise the firing of the canon when the Adams State football team scored a goal. "He introduced me to living history and reenacting," Thomas added. "He gave up his weekends and personal time to teach college students about how to shoot cannons, and how to learn more about the past in a hands-on way."

Goddard received his Ph.D. in archaeology in 1999 from the University of Nevada Reno, his Master in Arts in archaeology in 1975 from the University of Arizona, and his Bachelor of Arts from Wayne State University in 1971. He served as an agent for the Military Intelligence in the U.S. Army from 1969 until 1970.