Gilbert Kushner is one of a very small number of anthropologists who have been instrumental in providing for the institutionalization of applied anthropology, an arduous and professionally risky task that has over the past three decades provided a solid foundation and institutional base to a subfield that had previously existed more as a passing fancy, subject to shifts in disciplinary attention and vagaries of the marketplace. He has been a major player in the rapid expansion of applied anthropology in our time, and a key contributor to building the structures that ensure its continued prominence within the discipline.
Professor Kushner has represented applied anthropology in a number of professional associations. He has served on more than 15 committees of the SfAA, many of which he chaired, and has served in the elected offices of the Nominations & Elections Committee (1975-77) and Secretary (1983-86). He was co-chair of the 1988 annual meetings, and in 1976-77 he chaired the Society's Committee on Professional Standards and Accreditation. Kushner has also served on several committees of the American Anthropological Association, including service on their Board of Directors from 1986-89. He was elected President of the Society for Humanistic Anthropology from 1987-89 and served as an elected Councilor to the Society for Urban Anthropology in 1980-82. In addition, he has participated in committees of the Southern Anthropological Society and the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry. He has been President of the USF Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (1980-82) and President of the USF Chapter of the Society of Sigma Xi (1982-83).
Throughout his career, Professor Kushner has contributed to the knowledge of the anthropological discipline through his research and publications. His work has consistently shown the blending of a sense of humanity to the rigors of anthropological endeavor. A quality of intellectual resourcefulness and sincere good will shows through clearly in one of his earliest contributions, a critical analysis of the "administered community" in Israel (Immigrants from India in Israel: Planned Change in an Administered Community, 1973) as it does in later contributions to the understanding of cultural persistence (Persistent Peoples: Cultural Enclaves in Perspective, 1981) and to human rights issues (Human Rights and Anthropology, 1988). Kushner has also written extensively on the institutionalization of applied anthropology, and most particularly on the development of applied training programs. His insights on these matters remain among the most often cited in the available literature.
Of Professor Kushner's several contributions to the profession, none stands out so clearly or incontrovertibly as does his career long dedication to the training and education of applied and practicing anthropologists. As a result of his leadership as chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of South Florida, Professor Kushner created and implemented the first Master's program in Applied Anthropology in 1974, as well as the first PhD Applied Anthropology program in 1984. These programs provided the template for the great variety of applied training programs that now exist and that provide so much of the enduring structure of the applied subfield.