Ralph A. Luebben spent most of his academic career at Grinnell College, where he was the College's first full-time anthropologist and the first chair of the independent Department of Anthropology. Starting in 1957, Luebben enthralled students for nearly four decades, teaching about the societies and cultures of peoples around the world, from the former Soviet Union to the communities of Latin America and the American Southwest. Students recall that he brought his field and research experience into the classroom, and he was a meticulous and careful teacher. According to his faculty colleague and former student Jon Andelson '70, Luebben inspired many Grinnell students to pursue graduate study in anthropology.
Luebben's archaeological and ethnological interests were primarily in the American Southwest and Northern Mexico. He established a summer archaeological field school for Grinnell, and for many summers in the 1960s and 1970s led archaeological field sessions, once to Chihuahua, Mexico, and most often to southwest Colorado.
The Department of Anthropology recognized Luebben's many contributions to the College, the department, and the discipline of anthropology by creating an award in his honor, the Luebben Prize, given annually to the graduating senior anthropology major who best exemplifies the breadth of anthropology and service to the department.
Luebben was famous for riding his bicycle around Grinnell with wife Janell every day when weather permitted up until the age of 85. That year, they logged more than 3,000 miles on their bicycles.
Honor Ralph with a gift in support of the Emeritus Professors' Student Research Fund.
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