Wayne Pitard earned his PhD in Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University in 1982. He has been Professor of Religion at the University of Illinois since 1983, teaching Hebrew Bible and ancient Near Eastern Religions. After many years of serving as the curator of the Mesopotamian exhibit, in 2007 he became the Director of the Spurlock Museum. While here at the Museum, he has become the Spurlock historian and has written articles on a number of the Museum’s most interesting artifacts.
Wayne's research interests have focused on the cultural background of early Israelite religion, and he has written extensively on the ancient Canaanite religious texts from Ugarit, Syria, as well as on the ancient Aramaeans and their cultural relationships with biblical Israel. He has been recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, a Fulbright Grant, and was named a University of Illinois University Scholar in 1993.
Following careers in historical archaeology and retail, Karen joined the Spurlock Museum Business Office in 2004, assisting with purchasing, payroll, financial reporting, and human resources. After the retirement of the Business Manager in 2010, she assumed sole charge of the office, adding budgeting, grant administration, facilities, and equipment management to the mix. One of the greatest challenges of the job is keeping Museum staff compliant with ever-changing state and University policy and regulations.
In her free time, she enjoys trolling antique stores, finding good barbeque and Indian food, listening to her son play the euphonium, and reading a good book in a quiet corner.
Special Events Coordinator
Brian is one of those that moved to the University of Illinois for school and never left. Before starting at Spurlock in 2005, he did make one earlier appearance at the Museum by visiting Spurlock on its grand opening in 2002. With a group of 10-15 students, he keeps the Museum's Information Desk and 300+ events each year running smoothly.
You likely wouldn't guess that the Museum's desk/events guy obtained his degree in computer science, but his analytical skills are applied while troubleshooting last-second audio/video crises or coordinating work schedules with the changing student class schedules. Brian is usually one to not pass up exciting opportunities, so if you can find him, things he might discuss with you include, but are not limited to: travel, friends, family, contests, baseball, daylight saving, and bacon.
Assistant Director of Education
Kim has been associated with the Museum for many years, from visiting school kid to college intern and volunteer to current senior staff member. Her position includes duties in a variety of areas: creating and presenting programs; supervising staff; organizing, facilitating, and marketing special events; managing the care and use of the Teaching Collections; and serving as one of the coordinators for temporary exhibits.
Kim earned master’s degrees from both the University of Illinois and the University of Idaho and appreciates how her job reinforces life-long learning.
Education & Publications Coordinator
Beth has been working in museums since college, when she volunteered in the hands-on discovery room at University of Illinois Museum of Natural History. Graduate degrees in museum studies (University of Toronto) and library and information science (University of Illinois) have still not quite prepared her for 200 12-year-olds streaming through the front doors.
Beth first came to Spurlock in 2000 as a graduate assistant in publications and exhibit research, and she has maintained those duties while adding tours, public programs, editing, graphic design, and exhibit development and coordination. Exhibits are her favorite projects because they provide learning experiences that only museums can offer. Beth also loves opportunities to collaborate with other campus units. Outside of work, Beth loves to knit, sing, and watch Indian movies.
Education Program Coordinator
Brook has been at Spurlock for nearly a decade and has a long work background in elementary and middle school education, with an emphasis of technology integration in the classroom. She brings her lifelong love of museums and working with students to her position and visits museums around the country whenever she is traveling (some of her favorites are the Museum of Jurassic Technology, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and MOMA).
In her free time, Brook enjoys caring for her many beloved pets, going to indie rock concerts, seeing well-reviewed films, and keeping up with world news, especially issues related to cultural looting.
Education Associate for Program Research and Delivery
Regina Cassidy is the Education Associate for Program Research and Delivery. She began as an education volunteer in 2011. Gina’s primary duties are giving tours and leading programs, staffing special events and community outreach, helping to develop new and tweak existing programs, conducting research, and, yes, doing paperwork—it isn't all glamour. She has worked at the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation in Williamsburg, Virginia, and the American Museum of Natural History in New York. She is overly fond of the arts, and (surprise) she visits museums in her spare time.
Jennifer completed her BA and MA at Northern Illinois University in Southeast Asian Art History with a Museum Studies emphasis. As a student she documented artifacts for the newly founded Burma Gallery at NIU. A stay in Philadelphia for a 9-month Collections Management Internship at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology turned into 10 years when she became Keeper for the Asian Collections, occasionally moonlighting as curatorial consultant at the Ryerss Museum.
Jennifer returned to Illinois as Spurlock’s Registrar in 2001 and now works with a staff of nearly 20 full- and part-time employees, student assistants, interns, and volunteers to manage the growing collections, preserve and enhance their documentation, and teach Museum Studies. Outside of work her days are full of aerial arts; Argentine tango, swing, blues, salsa, and other forms of dance; quilting; gardening; learning Spanish; and exploration into teaching English as a second language.
Amy went to college to become an archaeologist, but her fear of snakes and love of the university’s museums led to career change. She holds BAs in Archaeology, English, and Classics from the University of Missouri-Columbia and an MLS in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Amy joined Spurlock as Assistant Registrar for Acquisitions in 2006. Her primary duties include facilitating museum loans, acquisitions research, and collections documentation. She is the voice on the phone if you have questions about the collections or want to donate an artifact.
Outside of the museum, Amy enjoys reading mysteries and trying to get her kids to watch classic movies. And coffee. Lots of coffee.
Registration Associate, Photography and Image Rights
Jessica joined the Spurlock Museum team in 2009 as Registration student assistant, helping to process, catalog, and photograph artifacts. This up close and personal interaction with world history had her hooked. She pursued a degree in Anthropology and graduated from the University of Illinois in 2011.
In her current role, Jessica manages the Documentary Multimedia Collection, which consists of over 40,000 photographs, slides, film, and other audiovisual materials. This collection is being organized, digitized, and cataloged into a searchable database. Jessica walks people through the process of requesting Museum images for research or publication. She also oversees a team of undergraduates that carries out artifact photography. When Jessica is not busy at work, you’ll find her talking about movies, attempting a new baking recipe, or gushing over all things puppies.
Director of Information Technology
Jack started his museum career volunteering in a one-room local historical museum in his hometown. He started working for Spurlock in 1998, performing data entry to support the hectic move from the Museum's original Lincoln Hall location. Jack's role has since evolved, but he continues to work his dream job 15+ years later, learning and finding new things to get excited by on a near-daily basis.
An alum of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois, Jack manages a small team of undergraduates to run the Museum's daily tech-based operations. When he's not creating databases and videos, building digital content for exhibits and the Museum's website, or researching technology and museum issues, you might find him talking about video games, board games, Japan, or his persnickety cat Brockett.
Christa is the longest serving member of the Museum staff, starting all the way back in 1991 as a graduate assistant and became the Collections Manager in 1998. A graduate of SUNY Oswego in Anthropology and Museum Studies (undergraduate), and of the University of Illinois in Anthropology (graduate), she handles all aspects of collections management, including collections management policy development, integrated pest management, the monitoring and control of environmental conditions, and the restoration, preservation, storage, security, inventory, shipping, and packing of the collections; Oh my!
Christa enjoys graphic novels, science fiction, board games, yoga, and riding her flamingo-pink bicycle. Christa is prepared, at any moment, to challenge John and assert that 80s music is superior.
Assistant Collections Manager
John joined the Spurlock Museum as a student in 1999, helping to pack and move the artifact collections to our current facility. Since becoming the Assistant Collections Manager in 2003, John supervises the day-to-day logistics of the section, while managing the organization, tracking, and mounting of artifacts in storage and managing the team of students and volunteers who make that possible.
An alum of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science and the department of Anthropology at University of Illinois, John enjoys using his relentless attention to detail for the general good, and he can be coaxed into singing 70s greatest hits on occasion. When not at work, he can be found at the closest movie theater or Ethiopian restaurant.
Melissa started working for the Spurlock as a student in 2003 and joined the full time staff in 2007 as the Collections Coordinator. She designs, builds, and installs temporary and rental exhibits with the help of her small team of students and volunteers. An Industrial Design alum from the University of Illinois, Melissa is a bit obsessed with the Guatemala textile collection and is always interested in finding her next cup of coffee.
Collections Storage Coordinator
Gavin started working at the Museum as a volunteer in 2011 and is currently the Storage Coordinator. Gavin's work is a perfect match for his anthropology and history degree from Illinois State University: he is in charge of making sure that all the artifacts are safely stored yet accessible to groups inside and outside the Museum. Gavin tracks and records the condition of all artifacts passing through his realm and cleans them as necessary.
An Urbana native, Gavin enjoys exploring his neighborhood on a bike and his own two feet. His favorite author is Terry Pratchett and he loves reading books in the fantasy genre.