ORONO, Maine — University of Maine archaeologist and associate professor Brian Robinson died Thursday at his home in Orono after a long illness. He was 63.
Robinson held joint appointments in the Department of Anthropology and the Climate Change Institute, the latter of which suffered another loss last week with the death of Gordon Hamilton, a professor and a researcher with the institute.
Before joining the UMaine community in 1989 as an assistant research professor, Robinson worked at the University of Maine at Farmington Archaeology Research Center, UMaine officials said Friday in a news release.
Robinson’s campus colleagues said that his contributions to his field were many.
“In Maine archaeology, Brian was a leader and a caring steward,” said Jeffrey Hecker, UMaine executive vice president for academic affairs and provost.
“He knew Maine and its people — past and present — and taught his students in the field and in the classroom the importance of exceptional research and the utmost respect for Maine’s Native American heritage. He was an outstanding teacher and mentor on campus and in the community,” Hecker said. “He will be missed. Our thoughts are with his family, and his many students and colleagues.”
Greg Zaro, chair of the Department of Anthropology, agreed.
“Brian was a tremendous colleague and person whose legacy will be felt across the university and state for many years to come,” he said.
Last spring, Robinson received the 2016 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Teaching and Advising Award. He was recognized for his passionate teaching style and ability to seamlessly incorporate active research and community engagement into the student learning experience.
In addition to his research contributions that brought Northeast archaeology into the national spotlight, Robinson helped lead the development of a coastal archaeology program that emphasizes education, scholarship and collaboration between UMaine and Maine’s Native American people, funded by the Maine Academic Prominence Initiative, or MAPI. In relation with that, Robinson regularly directed an intensive, four-week summer field school that took an interdisciplinary, intercommunity, hands-on approach to Maine’s pre-European past.
The hands-on archaeological training and engagement with Maine’s Native communities was the centerpiece of Robinson’s educational and student-centered accomplishments. In partnership with Native American Studies, it shaped his instructional, intellectual and community engagement activities. And the data produced through the coastal archaeology program over the years allowed the integration of excavated archaeological materials into a variety of Robinson’s course offerings, including his laboratory techniques course.
A private burial will be held and a remembrance gathering will be planned at a later date.