What I’ve learned on the job
A wise person recently told me that the primary job of a new chair is to learn as much as possible before giving into the temptation to start messing things up. Following at least the first part of this advice has led me to many observations, several of which are worth sharing with all of you.
First, I have learned that this is an amazingly resilient department. Despite our individual struggles and the perpetual disruptions to our daily routines, our faculty, students, and staff have found ways to keep the intellectual life of the department alive and thriving through the challenges of the pandemic. Among the pieces of evidence of this intellectual vibrancy are the many awards recently won by our faculty. For example, Pat Louie, Zack Almquist, and Adrian Raftery are among the recent recipients of awards for scholarship and career achievements. Pepper Schwartz has an endowed professorship named in her honor in the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. Last but not least, Governor Inslee has appointed Alexes Harris to be the first-ever faculty representative to the UW Board of Regents. All of these details and more are in the Awards section of this newsletter.
A second observation is that the remarkable research, teaching, and service contributions of our faculty and graduate students are facilitated daily by an amazing administrative team. Susanna Hansson, Randall Perez, Will Atienza, and Abbygail Eleccion provide fantastic service to our undergraduate students, our new Writing Center TA, Devin Collins provides guidance on the lost art, and Michelle Foshee keeps the graduate program humming. In the main office, Ari Asercion does a beautiful job with department communications and events, Mads Kaus is the master of all things financial, Ulrika O’Brien responds to an wide diversity of student and faculty needs and, of course, Fatema Mookhtiar continues to orchestrate the whole operation with grace and humor. After seeing firsthand what it takes to keep the department running so smoothly, I am even more appreciative of our staff, and of the herculean task done by my predecessor, Kate Stovel, to keep the department working through the pandemic.
My third observation is that leading a department requires a lot of buy-in and support from colleagues. I appreciate all my colleagues for taking it easy on me during this honeymoon period and especially appreciate those who have graciously taken up leadership positions in the department. Sarah Quinn has taken on the unenviable task of serving as our Associate Chair, Nathalie Williams remains in her leadership of our Undergraduate Program Committee, and Steve Pfaff is now steering the graduate program. Of course, all our administrative activities in the department are guided by input from our new Executive Committee: Pat Louie, Zack Almquist, Jerry Herting, and Alexes Harris.
A fourth important observation is that vibrant departments tend to remain in a state flux. Last year marked the retirement of three long-time members of the department: Pepper Schwartz, Edgar Kiser, and Ross Matsueda. Thanks go out to our staff for pulling off a fantastic celebration of Pepper’s career and to all who attended (please keep those party shoes handy for celebrations for Edgar and Ross). But even as we say goodbye to some longtime members of the department, we prepare to welcome two new colleagues. Our fearless Associate Chair, Sarah Quinn is leading two(!) faculty searches, one for a tenure-track Associate Professor and one for an Assistant Teaching Professor.
Finally, in my first few months in the chair’s office, I have a renewed appreciation for Savery Hall as a center of intellectual activity for our department. It has been wonderful to see a return to in-person research meetings, colloquia, and spontaneous hallway conversations that generate so much of the collegial, collaborative energy of our department. And with that, I hope to see you all soon!
Professor and Chair
Awards and Accomplishments
Pat Louie has won the 2022 Best Publication Award in the Sociology of Mental Health for her paper, “Do racial differences in coping resources explain the Black-White paradox in mental health?” The paper appeared in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.
Alexes Harris was the 2022 recipient of the Peterson-Krivo Mentoring Award from the Crime, Law, and Deviance Section of the American Sociological Association. She also received the Peterson-Krivo Mentoring Award from the Crime Law and Deviance section of the ASA. Finally, in October, Governor Inslee announced that Alexes Harris will serve as the first-ever faculty representative on the UW Board of Regents. This amazing honor is a strong reflection of Alexes' leadership and long advocacy of the university's faculty, students, and staff.
The Mental Health Section of the American Public Health Association has awarded the 2022 Carl Taube Award for Lifetime Contributions to Mental Health Services to Dr. David Takeuchi. In addition to being an affiliate professor here in Sociology (with both the Center for the Study of Demography and Ecology, and Center for the Statistics and Social Sciences), David T. Takeuchi is also currently Professor and Associate Dean for Faculty Excellence at the School of Social Work at the University of Washington.
Adrian Raftery, the Boeing International Professor of Statistics and Sociology, is recipient of the Chaire d'Excellence from the Fondation des Sciences Mathématiques de Paris (FSMP) as a visiting professor at the Laboratoire MAP5 (Department of Applied Mathematics at Paris 5), Université Paris-Cité. He gave a series of 20 lectures on Statistical Demography, and will return in Fall 2022. He was also awarded the 2022 Mindel C. Sheps Award for mathematical demography from the Population Association of America. Jointly sponsored by PAA and the University of North Carolina School of Public Health, this award is given biennially for outstanding contributions to mathematical demography or demographic methodology.
Pepper Schwartz, Professor of Sociology, was honored by the naming of the Pepper Schwartz Professorship of Sexuality and Aging in the University of Minnesota School of Medicine.
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