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Retired Mills Professor of Anthropology Emerita Ann Metcalf has passed (1940-2020)

Photo courtesy David Rosenthal

On Sept. 13, 2020, retired Mills Professor of Anthropology Ann Metcalf passed away. She taught at Mills from 1984–2016. Interacting and exploring concepts with students was one of Metcalf’s favorite parts about the college. She applied for a teaching job at Mills shortly after substituting for a class and “falling in love with the college’s atmosphere and students.”

Her teaching and research interests were based in women’s studies, Native American studies, child development and social inequality. She served as an affiliate scientist for the Institute of Scientific Analysis, a research organization that studies policy development and how major policy issues affect society.

Metcalf is survived by her sons Stephen and David Rosenthal; her grandchildren, Molly, Lucy, and Christopher Rosenthal; her cousins Russell and Ian Miller; and her nieces Lisa McVeigh and Dian Sesko, as wells as many close friends and in-laws.

“My mom loved teaching, and she especially loved teaching at Mills,” David Rosenthal said. “She always raved about how Mills students were passionate, challenging, and inspirational.”

Metcalf is also remembered by Dr. Marianne Sheldon, Professor of History at Mills, who worked close with her during her time at Mills.

“Ann Metcalf was a vital part of the Mills Social Sciences community going back to the time when we all had offices in Kimball House. She was an engaged scholar; always ready to support her students, colleagues, and community. She enthusiastically participated in our lively interdisciplinary discussions and through her coordination of the Pow Wow on the Mills campus helped to expand our connections to the Oakland community. Ann will be remembered for her wisdom, collegiality, sense of humor, and dedication to teaching and learning,” Dr. Sheldon said.

The following is a death notice, courtesy of David Rosenthal.

“Ann Metcalf, of Kensington, CA, died Sunday, September 13, 2020, at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland. Born on March 18, 1940, to Archie Hillyer (d. 1979) and Dorothy Miller (nee Hillyer, d. 2003), Ann was raised in Muscatine, IA, and graduated Valedictorian from Muscatine High School in 1958.

After earning a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago in 1962, she moved to Washington D.C., where she married William Rosenthal in 1963 (divorced 1975). While in D.C., Ann worked as a research assistant under Alice Rivlin at the Brookings Institution, and took graduate courses in Education at Howard University. She earned her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Stanford University in 1975, and enjoyed a long academic career, including positions at U.C. Berkeley, University of Washington, and the Institute for Scientific Analysis, before joining the teaching faculty at Mills College in 1984.

While at Mills, Ann served as Director of Community Service and Service Learning (1997-2000), was named Edward Hohfeld Endowed Chair in American Studies (1998-2001), and was twice awarded National Science Foundation Summer Institute fellowships. Her research and teaching interests included women’s status, child development, social inequality, and Native American studies. She published several articles over the years, and made numerous presentations to professional organizations such as the Society for Applied Anthropology and the American Anthropological Association, but Ann was never more fulfilled professionally than when working with her students and teaching colleagues. She retired from Mills as Professor Emerita of Anthropology in 2016.

A loving parent and grandparent, a mentor to many, and an avid reader of Jane Austen, Stephen King, and everything in between, Ann is remembered for her sharp intellect, fierce independence, and abundant kindness. She is survived by sons Stephen Rosenthal and David Rosenthal, adored grandchildren, Molly Rosenthal, Lucy Rosenthal, and Christopher Rosenthal, cousins Russell and Ian Miller, nieces Lisa McVeigh and Dian Sesko, and many dear friends and in-laws. She was preceded in death by her beloved sister Sherry Sesko, and uncle Donald Miller.

Memorial donations may be made to Navajo Nation COVID-19 Response Donation Fund ( or the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (”