The following was first published in the Saddleback Gaucho Gazette:
Micael Merrifield, our longtime friend and colleague, died unexpectedly on Tuesday, September 24th. Micael will be remembered for his insatiable curiosity, boundless energy, and ability to capture the imagination of students.
During his tenure at Saddleback College, Micael inspired generations of students to care about the world in which they live and to become involved in working for progressive change. Micael had a passion for teaching and truly cared about his students as individuals in a way that is rare. He taught his students to think critically and to question the structures of power, privilege, and authority all around them. He also lived according to these ideals and was a fierce advocate for students, faculty, and staff at the college he loved and to which he dedicated his life. He also worked for years as the tribal anthropologist for the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemem Nation, and fought tirelessly with them for Federal Recognition.
Micael joined Saddleback in 1977 when he was hired to create a tutorial program, which we know of today as the Learning Assistance Program (LAP). In 1985, he became a professor of Anthropology in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Division. Students flocked to take his classes each semester, and he entertained them with his stories while also challenging them to be thoughtful scholars. He loved to travel, and regularly took students on study abroad trips, most recently to Belfast, Northern Ireland, but also to Scotland, Mexico, and Cuba.
In addition to his teaching, Micael was also a faculty leader. He served several terms as president of both the Academic Senate and the Faculty Association.
Micael was a presence at Saddleback College, and he will be greatly missed.
Thank you Claire Cesareo, Ken Woodward, Brad Rettele, and Margot Lovett for drafting these beautiful words about Micael, which nicely reflect the feelings of our entire Saddleback College family. Our hearts and prayers go out to Micael’s family, and over the coming days we will notify the college community about their plans for honoring our lost colleague and friend.