2012 Distinguished Alumni Award: Bill DeWalt

Bill DeWalt is the founding President and Director of the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), an expansive $250 million institution that opened in April 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. DeWalt was responsible for assisting in the design and overseeing construction of the 200,000-square-foot building, amassing a collection of more than 15,000 musical instruments from nearly every country in the world, and assembling a team of 110 employees and 350 volunteers. He currently manages the operations of the museum, as well as its world-class theater, which offers concerts by artists from across the globe.

Dr. DeWalt graduated as an Honors Scholar with a bachelor’s degree in sociology/anthropology from the University of Connecticut in 1969. He continued his studies in the University’s newly created Ph.D. program in anthropology and received his doctorate in cultural anthropology in 1976. He taught at Central Connecticut State College from 1974 until 1977, and held faculty and administrative positions at the University of Kentucky from 1977 until 1993. Dr. DeWalt was appointed Director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Pittsburgh in 1993, and served as a Distinguished Service Professor of Public and International Affairs from 1993 until 2007. He also taught in Ecuador and Argentina as a Fulbright Scholar and won major teaching and research awards at the universities of Kentucky and Pittsburgh.

Dr. DeWalt’s extensive publications focus on the human dimensions of natural resource and environmental policies, the cultures of Latin America, and anthropological methods. He has been a consultant for such organizations as the World Wildlife Fund, the World Bank, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Prior to joining MIM, Dr. DeWalt served as Director of Carnegie Museum of Natural History (CMNH) in Pittsburgh from 2001 until 2007. His achievements there included raising more than $50 million for a building expansion and exhibit renovation for the museum’s renowned dinosaur collection, creating a 5000-foot special exhibits gallery, and building a new research and administrative facility for the museum’s Powdermill Nature Reserve.

Dr. DeWalt serves on MIM’s Board of Directors, as well as the boards of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and of the Arizona Citizens for the Arts, and is currently an Adjunct Professor in the School of Human Evolution & Social Change at Arizona State University. He previously held board positions at Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh and the Nature Conservancy of Pennsylvania.

Dr. DeWalt is married to Sylvia M. Keller, Director of Special Projects at MIM, and is the father of Saara J. DeWalt, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Clemson University, and Gareth M. DeWalt, an intellectual property attorney at Skadden Arps in Palo Alto, California.