Sienna Craig Becomes the South House Professor

The cultural anthropologist is dedicated to fostering a holistic, welcoming community.

Associate Professor Sienna Craig, a cultural and medical anthropologist whose work focuses on cross-cultural experiences and practices of medicine and healing, has accepted the position of resident professor for South House, where she plans to “bring my passion for experiential education, the joy I take in community building, and my commitment to cross-cultural engagement” to the residential community.

Craig takes over from sociology professor Kathryn Lively, who left her South House role when she was named dean of the College. Craig was deputy house professor for South House through the 2018-19 academic year and credits Lively, who was an inaugural house professor when the residential system was launched in 2015, for sharing her insights.

“I am thrilled, honored, and humbled to be named the new South House professor,” says Craig. “Dean Lively has been a mentor and a friend since I arrived at Dartmouth in 2006, and I have been fortunate to learn from and work with her over the past year. I hope that I will make her and others in our community proud as I take on this new role.”

Lively says she is delighted to pass the baton to Craig. “Sienna’s deep appreciation that students—and indeed all of us—are connected holistically through the communities we create parallels the principle on which the Dartmouth house system was founded,” Lively says. “The way she has already connected with residents, developed exciting programming, and supported the developing house culture, shows me that South House will continue to thrive under her guidance and support. I look forward to seeing how South House evolves under her leadership and attending many house events as just one of many house affiliated faculty.”

Dartmouth’s house communities opened in the fall of 2016 to expand opportunities for students, staff, and faculty to interact outside the classroom. Six house professors live in single-family homes. First-year students, who are assigned to a house when they arrive at Dartmouth, gather with fellow house members for social and intellectual activities in the faculty homes, student residences, and house social spaces. Students retain their house affiliation throughout their time at Dartmouth. South House is a gathering spot for students living in Topliff and New Hampshire halls, and the Lodge.

Craig’s training as an anthropologist informs her commitment to the residential house structure at Dartmouth. “The purpose of the system is not only to foster holistic structures for community-building at Dartmouth—inclusive of its many different constituents—but also to generate empathy and curiosity within and among students, faculty, and staff,” Craig says. “The system is neither the only place to feel connected or to find home at Dartmouth, nor is it an ‘experiment’ or an ‘alternative.’ Rather, it is an invitation to create physical and social spaces of meaning, care, belonging, and growth on campus and beyond. Like culture itself, the house system is what we make of it.”

Over the past year, Craig has helped plan a number of programs, including a series of conversations called “South by South House.” The evening gatherings focus on the lives of two members of Dartmouth’s faculty or staff. “For example, we brought together professors Michael Casey, from the departments of music and computer science, and Peter Tse, from psychological and brain sciences, for a fascinating dialogue about their shared interests in music and consciousness,” Craig says.

She looks forward to continuing to work with the South House leadership teams and colleagues from across campus “to create conditions in which all members of our community can feel engaged, welcomed, and productively challenged,” Craig says.

She will be moving into the South House faculty residence at 5 Sanborn Road in early August with her husband, Kenneth Bauer, a lecturer in anthropology and program manager at the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, their 14-year-old daughter, Aida, and their cat, Finn.

“I can’t wait to deepen relationships with those I already know and to connect with new people, including the ’23s who will be joining us soon,” Craig says.

William Platt can be reached at [email protected].