Sunday, September 27, 2009
Message From Our Chair
The 2009-2010 year will be a year of transitions for us. We hope to
bring in three to four new faculty in demography, military sociology,
and qualitative methods. At the same time, we will be losing Bart
Landry and Mady Segal to retirements. Each has been with the
department over 30 years, and each will leave lasting legacies on
the stratification and military sociology programs that will continue
to benefit us for years to come.
This is also a year of transition to a revised graduate program.
The changes move us towards more emphasis on mentoring and
research apprenticeships and somewhat away from a structured
program of coursework. One objective is to permit students to
get involved in research and publications earlier in their graduate
training. Another objective is to provide more space for individualized
programs of study and investigation. Like all plans, its success
depends as much on good implementation as on good design,
so 2009-2010 will be our first test.
The undergraduate program also faces challenges. On the one
hand, we hope to work towards a firmer consensus on the content
of our core curriculum so that different instructors and different
semesters will still provide the same foundation. At the same time
we are looking for ways to expand research experiences and honors
opportunities for our majors.
Most obviously for me, 2009-2010 is a year of transition to a new
chair. So far, everybody has been wonderfully patient as I get
adjusted to the new duties. Fortunately, we are building on the great
year we just finished. Distinguished University Professor Patricia Hill
Collins presided over the annual meeting this August as the 100th
president of the American Sociological Association. We continued
to rise in the U.S News national rankings (now 20th). We graduated
almost 150 undergraduate majors in the last year. And we accepted
one of the largest and best qualified graduate cohorts ever.
So, welcome to a year of transitions. With everybody helping
and with a little bit of good luck, it can be a year of lasting