40 Years of Service: Oystein LaBianca

   Employee Awards | Posted on February 22, 2021

Øystein (Sten) LaBianca is known internationally because of his leadership in introducing anthropological approaches to the archaeology of the biblical world. When he became chair of the Department of Behavioral Sciences in 1983, he made experiential learning a cornerstone of the department’s approach to education by introducing community-based service learning, undergraduate research and study tours to Peru and Jordan as integral components of the department’s offerings.

In 1992 he stepped down as chair to incubate the Master of International Development Program, first on campus, and then off-campus in partnership with ADRA and various Adventist divisions and academic institutions worldwide.

Sten has also provided leadership within his professional association, the American Schools of Oriental Research, which he has served as vice president and as a member of numerous committees and its board of trustees.

Though Sten retired from active teaching as of July 2020, he plans to continue his research and writing as senior research professor in his lab at the Horn Archaeological Museum, working on publishing results from his fieldwork at Tall Hisban, biblical Heshbon, in Jordan, and mentoring younger faculty and students.

Many of his colleagues sent messages of congratulations and appreciation. Here are a few short excerpts:

Noel Harris wrote: “… My good friend Anna Kim and I used to joke that you could come to him with any terrible, illogical idea and he would sit down with you and find the one aspect that made sense and help you develop that. He is brilliant in this way, guiding his students with kindness and inspiring them to critically think and challenge concepts. He impressed me his humbleness, always willing to listen and learn from his students.”


Colleague Duane McBride says, “Sten has done so much to raise the international scholarly profile of Andrews University. His global presentations and publications in high profile venues have helped establish the outstanding reputation Andrews University has in anthropological archaeology.”

“I benefited tremendously from Dr. LaBianca's mentorship and support while I was at Andrews. I came to Andrews in large part to study with him, and it was one of the best decisions I've made,” says Andy Gerard.

Kathleen (Schwarz) Nay shared, “Dr. LaBianca left a profound influence on my early academic life and my worldview.”

Colleague Rod Snow said, “Sten is a visionary who has helped propel Andrews University forward globally, locally and personally for so many.”

Darrell Rohl summed up his tribute with the following words, “In my judgment, Sten LaBianca is an embodiment of Andrews' mission to Seek Knowledge, Affirm Faith, and Change the World.”

Adam Kotanko wrote, “Dr. LaBianca’s mentoring has been invaluable throughout my academic career, first as an undergraduate student while learning about archaeology in Hesban, Jordan, and then during my master’s degree, when Dr. LaBianca served on my committee.”

Long-time colleague Randy Younker says, “I am particularly happy that he has decided to continue his collaboration at the Institute of Archaeology in the position of senior research professor. In that capacity we shall continue to enjoy Sten’s expertise and friendship in fieldwork and scholarship.”

Your contributions live on in the lives of so many, Dr. LaBianca. Thank you for 40 years of dedicated service.