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Kalleberg Engages Campuses During His Presidential Year

ASA President Arne L. Kalleberg is touring the country visiting sociology departments and associations ascertaining the state of the discipline. In November, he delivered a public lecture and met with sociology faculty and students at Texas A&M University. When Kalleberg and Jean H. Shin, Director of the ASA Minority Affairs Program, visited Texas A&M they got a first-hand look at the growth of sociology as a program as well as overall diversity initiatives on the campus.

According to Kalleberg, what “many sociology departments are doing with regard to increasing diversity goes hand in hand with excellence in research and teaching, and it is clear that Texas A&M has struck a real and remarkable balance in this realm.” Kalleberg and Shin learned about the relative strength of sociology within the liberal arts program through discussions with Texas A&M chair Mark Fossett who stated that there have been concerted efforts over the past decade to diversify both the faculty and student body, and that the sociology department has been recognized as a true university leader in this regard.

Kalleberg and Shin had group discussions with a large cadre of senior and junior faculty members about strategies for achieving diversity goals in the graduate and undergraduate curriculum as well as in faculty hiring and retention. Shin conducted a workshop for undergraduate students on careers in sociology, which was sponsored by the department’s Alpha Kappa Delta chapter, and was followed by one for graduate students about the academic job market as well as opportunities through the Minority Fellowship Program. The one-day visit was capped by Kalleberg’s lecture, “Work in the South: Challenges and Prospects,” which was given to a full audience from across campus as well as invited visitors from other institutions. He described the uniqueness of the South with regard to issues facing a range of workers and workplaces, and outlined possible strategies for reducing the gap in the quality of jobs available to both urban and rural residents.

And on to Mississippi

In April, Kalleberg will deliver another public lecture at Jackson State University in Mississippi. The Jackson State lecture will focus on “The Role of Sociology in the 21st Century” and provide a backdrop on the possible contributions of sociology in various sectors—domestic and international. While visiting Jackson State, Kalleberg aims to tie together a significant interest by ASA in further engaging Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) overall, with recognition of Jackson State’s particular role as a leading institution in the social sciences for the greater region. Thomas C. Calhoun, chair of the criminal justice and sociology department, will serve as host for the visit, which will include meetings with campus administrators, faculty in the department, and invited representatives from HBCU institutions in the surrounding area. Shin will accompany Kalleberg to Jackson State and offer workshops and MFP outreach to both graduate and undergraduate students.

Regarding the visit, Calhoun said that “Jackson State is honored to host President Kalleberg and is impressed by his initiative. He is setting a tremendous example by recognizing the importance of HBCUs in the development of the discipline and especially in the future pipeline of minority social scientists and researchers.”

Kalleberg also participated in the 2007 Mid-South Sociological Association Annual Meeting in Mobile, AL, in October as part of his ASA presidential travel. He will also attend the 2008 Southwestern Social Science Association Annual Meeting on March 12-15 (in Las Vegas, NV) and the 2008 Southern Sociological Society Annual Meeting on April 9-12 (in Richmond, VA). More on his activities at these meetings, plus a description of regional association meeting highlights, will be forthcoming in a late spring issue of Footnotes.