Department of Sociology Newsletter - Summer 2023

Aerial Photo of Fraser Hall Exterior and Roof

Message from the Chair

Greetings from Fraser Hall! Academic Year 2022-23 seems to have flown by unusually fast. Although the pandemic has officially been declared to be over in May 2023, the past academic year has continued to be challenging in many respects for faculty, students, and staff. We continue to deal with the uncertainties of the “new normal” in higher education and in the workplaces. While welcoming the end of a serious pandemic crisis, many faculty, students, and staff members grapple with the ramifications of a post-pandemic world, including post-pandemic stresses in every area of life/work and global worries about the future of our planet. Although we do not know what the future holds, one thing seems to be certain: the full psychological and social impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is far-reaching and has yet to be grasped.

In the midst of these developments, the KU Sociology Department has a number of accomplishments to highlight in the past academic year that we would like to share. In the fall of 2022, we welcomed two new faculty members to our department. Assistant Professor Elizabeth Felix conducts research in the area of sociology of health/medicine and criminology and hails from University of Iowa. Assistant Teaching Professor, Kelly Sharron, who joins us from California State University, Long Beach, specializes in the areas of gender/sexuality, criminology, and feminist theory. Kelly Sharron has a split appointment between Sociology and the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. We are extremely happy to have them join us.

This coming fall, we are also excited to welcome to our department yet another new colleague, Professor Argun Saatcioglu, whose expertise lies in the sociology of education. We extend a heartfelt welcome to Professor Saatcioglu and look forward to him as our colleague (see profile). It is also my pleasure to announce the promotion of Professor Jarron Saint Onge to full professor. Congratulations, Jarron!

Throughout the past academic year, Sociology faculty members have continued to publish extensively, win prestigious grants and fellowships, and achieve professional recognition (see individual faculty updates for details). They have also worked tirelessly for their students by way of teaching and advising, drawing upon a deep well of patience and empathy. Indeed, it is no accident that in May, our Assistant Teaching Professor Lisa-Marie Wright won the 2023 Gene A. Budig Teaching Professorship Award, an annual award that recognizes social/behavioral sciences faculty for outstanding contribution to the teaching of students and a commitment to excellent in teaching. I also want to congratulate Professor Brian Donovan for the superb Presidential Address he gave at the 2023 Midwest Sociological Society annual meeting as its 87th elected president. The address, entitled “The Inevitability and Promise of Historical Sociology,” can be viewed in printed version here.

As usual, I also want to extend a special thanks to the department leadership for their dedication to the business of the department: Brian Donovan (Associate Chair), ChangHwan Kim (Director of Graduate Studies), Tracey LaPierre (Director of Undergraduate Studies), and Joane Nagel (Director of Personnel Committee). I want to express my gratitude to every faculty member for their unique contributions to the work and the culture of our department. I never cease to be amazed by how truly exceptional our faculty members are as educators and human beings.

This fall, we are also delighted to welcome five new graduate students into our program, Kayla Curry, Gabby Dobbs, Charles Herro, Alyssa Lewis, and Sepideh Yadegar. The KU Sociology graduate program has much to be proud of in 2023. As usual, our graduate students have been publishing, defending proposals and dissertations, winning awards, and getting jobs. For example, in the spring of 2023, six newly minted Ph.D. graduates snagged a number of coveted academic and non-academic positions (see Graduate Studies update for details). We congratulate all our new graduates and look forward to hearing about their future successes. We are truly proud of the Department of Sociology’s hardworking and talented graduate students and their commitment to their studies and teaching. Last but not least, we congratulate the graduating senior class of 2023, who has persevered through another difficult post-pandemic year.

Finally, I want to sincerely thank our office staff for their hard work and good cheer, our Office Manager Bethany Engel and Administrative Assistant Jan Emerson. I also want to thank Corinne Butler, our Graduate Program Coordinator, and our three student office assistants, Caitlin Broz, Sarah Bujarski, and Neleh Davis. We would not know what to do without you.

In March 2023, we welcomed a new Dean of the College of Social Sciences, Dean Arash Mafi. This is a milestone for the College of Arts and Sciences after three years with an interim dean. The Department of Sociology looks forward to a productive collaboration with Dean Mafi in the upcoming years.

Best wishes,

Kelly H. Chong

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