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ASA Deputy Carla Howery Celebrates 25th Year at ASA

Transient relations, fleeting loyalties, and short-lived technological upheavals define our modern society, so it is almost unnerving to encounter anything in life suggesting rock-solid permanence. But Carla B. Howery, ASA’s Deputy Executive Officer, celebrated her 25th year as a member of ASA’s staff this summer. While Carla has witnessed a few passing fads since joining ASA in 1981, her solidly productive 25-year record speaks for itself as anything but a transitory contribution to the association and the discipline and communities of sociology.

“Carla’s loyal, long-term contributions to the efficient functioning of ASA and the generation of useful teaching- related products and programs are eminently reassuring to the sociological community and a testament to the permanent relevance of the discipline,” said Sally Hillsman, ASA Executive Officer. “Her institutional knowledge and myriad of contacts have been essential to the functioning of the ASA.”

Carla’s long ASA tenure is also a key source of the association’s organizational pride, as she is one of three long-term ASA staff (as well as Janet Astner and Karen Edwards) among the modest number (27) of ASA employees.

Looking Forward

Not dwelling on past accomplishments, Miami University sociologist Ted Wagenaar, who has worked extensively with Carla over the years, characterized her contributions to ASA, saying, “Carla continues to play the single most important role in the history of the ASA’s concrete support for teaching. She began work at the ASA at a crucial time. The teaching projects were underway, funded, and led by Charles Goldsmid and Hans Mauksch. But institutional support via the ASA was still thin. Carla piloted that support and helped create structural legs for the teaching project.”

Wagenaar explained that ASA’s Teaching Resources Program started then and continues to sell many copies of teaching support materials. “Carla promoted sociologists as consultants on teaching and curriculum. She has been a strong spokesperson for teaching and curriculum issues at professional meetings and at meetings connected with the ASA. And she knows just about everyone engaged in promoting the teaching and learning of sociology.”

In addition to being ASA’s deputy, Carla serves as Director of the Academic and Professional Affairs Program, which supports sociology departments across all academic levels through the development of curricula materials and special programs for chairs, high school affiliates, and community college teachers. Carla also manages ASA’s Department Resources Group, which provides expert consultation to departments and formally represents the discipline and ASA in several higher education organizations.

Friend, Colleague, Major Influence

Southwestern University sociologist Ed Kain, like many sociologists, values Carla both as a colleague and a friend. He expressed his congratulations for her long service, saying, “Carla has been an important part of ASA for many years and has been involved in a wide range of projects.” Kain cited two recent examples: the MOST (Minority Opportunities through School Transformation) program, aimed at improving the pipeline for bringing minority scholars into the discipline, and the IDA (Integrating Data Analysis) project, designed to infuse quantitative data analysis across the undergraduate sociology curriculum. “Both of these illustrate how her focus is upon all parts of our craft (i.e., teaching, research, public service) and how the structure of the academy can be changed to enhance our field,” said Kain.

As ASA staff, Carla has helped organize, and has served on, a number of key teaching-related task forces. “These resulted in important documents that can be used by departments in strengthening their programs,” said Kain, providing three examples: the first and second editions of Liberal Learning and the Sociology Major, and the new document on the role played by sociology in general education, due early next year.

Carla’s influence on the field is clearly one of strengthening the status of teaching and establishing long term structures that will help maintain its continuing contribution to sociological research and practice and society. “Throughout all of this, Carla does her work with remarkable insight, unending energy, and a humor that energizes us all,” said Kain, expressing a sentiment shared by all Carla’s ASA office colleagues.

Editor’s Note: After 25 years of loyal service to the ASA, Carla recently announced her upcoming departure this spring, but her contributions to sociology and the ASA are lasting and her spirit enduring.