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Lucie Cheng, former director of the University of California-Los Angeles Asian American Studies Center and a Professor Emeritus of Sociology, died January 27 in Taipei, Taiwan, after battling cancer for several years. She was 70.
Harriette Pipes McAdoo, who was slated to retire from Michigan State University this year, passed away unexpectedly December 21, 2009, at the age of 69.
Earl Rubington, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Northeastern University, died on January 16, 2010, at the age of 86.
Following a long illness, James Jana passed away on February 15, 2010.
Jim was born in Berwyn, IL, on September 26, 1930. He received his BA from St. Ambrose College in 1952 and briefly taught in the Chicago public school system before beginning his graduate studies at Loyola University of Chicago. Completing his master’s thesis, Four Approaches to the Study of Social Character and Personality in 1958, Jim earned his MA and promptly began his first and only college teaching job at St. Procopius College in Lisle, IL. Jim was the first full-time lay faculty member at the institution, which underwent two name changes (currently the Benedictine University) and admitted women and non-Catholics as students and faculty during his 30 years of instruction. Like faculty at many small colleges, Jim was expected to shape the minds and character of students rather than conduct original research. This he did with real dedication, as his knowledge of the Chicago area led him to take students into the city and expose them to the complexities of urban life. Jim persuaded several of them to share the field he loved, with an exceptionally strong student (Chris Vanderpool) going on to chair the department of sociology at Michigan State University. His impact was not limited to students, while he encouraged colleagues to do their best in the classroom, he also showed genuine interest in their work and was always ready to suggest sources relevant to their research. Not surprisingly, in a unanimous vote from his colleagues after his retirement, he was awarded the title of professor emeritus.
Advanced to PhD candidacy in 1964, Jim never completed his doctorate, but that did not mean he lost touch with sociology. Committed to keeping up with his favorite discipline despite a heavy teaching load (faculty were expected to teach five courses per semester in his day), Jim attended meetings of the American Sociological Association, contributed a book review to the American Catholic Sociological Review, and participated in a seminar held at the University of Chicago, an institution he held in very high regard (and where he met graduate student Andrew Greeley).
A quiet and gentle man, Jim never married, devoting his attention both to his students (whom he preferred to describe as "our young scholars") and to his cousin’s family. Keeping active and engaged well into his retirement, Jim continued to visit Chicago and to participate in community events.
There have been, and probably still are, thousands of Jims out there, sociology faculty whose lives of quiet, self sacrificing service to their students, institutions, and discipline often prevented them from conducting and publishing much work of their own. I know it’s late, Jim, but your contributions are now more broadly recognized as your name appears in an official publication of the American Sociological Association.
Jonathan F. Lewis, Benedictine University
Joseph A. Kahl, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Cornell University, died on January 1, 2010. He was 86.
Kahl was born in 1923 to an affluent Chicago family, whose fortune would evaporate in the 1929 crash. In 1940, he entered the University of Chicago as a commuting student, but his undergraduate career was interrupted by military service in the South Pacific. After the fighting ended, "Sergeant Kahl" collaborated on what was to be his first substantial publication, a semi-official account of The Deadeyes: The Story of the 96th Infantry Division.
Back at the University of Chicago, supported by the GI bill, Kahl finished his undergraduate degree and earned an MA in sociology. He studied with Lewis Wirth, Herbert Blumer, Everett Hughes, Lloyd Warner, and William F. Whyte, and gained a strong introduction to street-level sociological field methods.
In the fall of 1948, Kahl entered the PhD program at Harvard, with continued support from the GI Bill. His Cambridge mentors—a remarkably gifted and diverse group—were theorists Talcott Parsons and George Homans, survey researcher Samuel Stauffer, and anthropologist Clyde Kluckholm. Kahl’s dissertation, summarized in an often reprinted article in the Harvard Education Review (1953), focused on working-class boys with high aspirations. Kahl finished his degree in 1951 and was given a three-year instructorship.
In a pioneering course, Kahl taught at Harvard with another young instructor, Peter Rossi. He drew invitation from Holt Rinehart to write the textbook The American Class Structure (1957). It would remain in print, unrevised, for over two decades and help define the emerging field of social stratification. The book earned this long run by presenting a lucid, critical synthesis of early research by the Lynds, Warner, Hollingshead and others. Kahl organized the material around a series of basic variables, which, he concluded, tended to converge into a six-class pattern. Kahl acknowledged that the classes he described were emergent tendencies, abstractions from social reality.
He finished writing the The American Class Structure in Mexico City, where, in the mid-1950s, an unemployed PhD could live cheaply. Kahl fell in love with Mexico. He was fascinated with the rapid pace of social change in this "backward" society, which became the focus of much of his subsequent work. The book was well received. It helped him secure a tenure track position at Washington University in Saint Louis. The royalties paid for a second home in Cuernavaca, a sunny town an hour south of Mexico City, which served as his retreat during winter breaks and summers. Many of his surviving friends, colleagues, and students will retain warm memories of their stays at Casa Kahl.
He would remain at Washington University for 13 years in a lively department that built a strong national reputation. But in the late-1960s, the sociology department was torn by internal strife and conflicts with the administration. Four tenured professors left, including Kahl who went to Cornell and his good friend Lee Rainwater who went to Harvard.
From 1969 until his retirement in 1983, he taught at Cornell where his most successful offerings were an undergraduate course comparing revolutions in Mexico and Cuba and an interdisciplinary graduate seminar on Latin American development. The latter, given with colleagues from Government and Economics, drew an eclectic and enthusiastic mix of American and Latin American students from across the university.
Kahl’s last two major works were engaging books with ponderous titles: The Measurement of Modernism: A Study of Values in Brazil and Mexico (1968) and Modernization, Exploitation, and Dependency: Germani, Gonzalez Casanova, and Cardoso (1976). The former, based on Kahl’s own survey research in the two countries defined a set of modern values, whose best predictors were higher socioeconomic and urban residence. National culture proved to be a weak predictor. In the second book, Kahl examined the work of three influential Latin American sociologists with the same care that he had dissected early stratification studies. Drawing on extended interviews with the three men, he placed their work in biographic and social context. In 1982, Kahl and a former graduate student, Dennis Gilbert, published The American Class Structure: A New Synthesis, an extensively revised version of the original text.
Kahl retired from the Cornell faculty at age 60, telling his colleagues, "As an opera lover, I have watched several great singers stay on too long, leaving memories of voices that had begun to fade, not voices in full bloom. I decided long ago to stop teaching before my voice gave out." He moved to Chapel Hill, NC, where he devoted himself to opera, bridge, and golf. Kahl traveled, kept up with developments in Latin America, and completed two more editions of The American Class Structure with Dennis Gilbert. Recent editions have been published by Gilbert, who dedicates the forthcoming eighth edition to "Joe Kahl, a fine teacher, a supportive colleague, and a good friend."
Dennis Gilbert, Hamilton College
Earl Rubington, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Northeastern University, died January 16, 2010, at the age of 86. His extraordinary career included works on the many facets of deviance, social control, social problems, and the symbolic interactionist perspective.
Rubington earned his degrees from Yale University—his BA in 1947, an MA in 1949, and his PhD in 1955. He began his career as an assistant professor of sociology at Park College in Missouri, and in 1956 he became a research sociologist for the Connecticut Commission on Alcoholism while also teaching at the Yale Center for Alcohol Studies. From 1962 to1969, Rubington was an associate professor of sociology at the famed Center of Alcohol Studies at Rutgers University. He then became professor of sociology at Northeastern University where he taught, wrote, and helped students for 30 years. He retired from Northeastern in 1999 yet continued working and writing until shortly before his death.
Rubington published his first professional journal article, "The Chronic Drunkenness Offender in Connecticut," in 1956. Over the course of his career Rubington published numerous articles on homeless alcoholics, halfway houses, alcoholism, and drug addiction as deviant careers, and college drinking. His article "Race Relations in a Psychiatric Hospital," published in Human Organization in 1969, is a strong example of the sensitivity and social relevance Rubington pursued in his empirical work.
Rubington’s books have had a lasting impact on the field of sociology. In 1973, Alcohol and Social Control was published by Charles E. Merrill. The Solution of Social Problems, edited with Martin S. Weinberg and Sue K. Hammersmith, followed in 1981, published by Oxford University Press. His text Deviance: The Interactionist Perspective, edited with Martin S. Weinberg, was first published in 1968 and is currently in its tenth edition.
The Study of Social Problems: Seven Perspectives, also edited with Martin S. Weinberg, was first published in 1971, with the seventh edition due out in February 2010. In 2009, Rubington completed Substance Use and Abuse: Exploring Alcohol and Drug Issues, with Sylvia Mignon, Marjorie Marcoux Faiia, and Peter L. Myers, just months before his death. The fact that Rubington’s books have seen so many editions is a testament to the importance and lasting quality of his work.
In 1995, Rubington won the lifetime achievement award from the International Coalition of Addiction Studies Education (INCASE). Caught by surprise, he quipped that he wasn’t finished yet with his achievements! Fondly remembered for his sharp wit and ability to recall in uncanny detail or the most obscure reference (including page numbers), Rubington always loved a good story of how addicts and alcoholics recovered from their addictions and turned their lives around. Rubington’s major contributions to the field of sociology will be appreciated for many years to come.
Sylvia I. Mignon, University of Massachusetts-Boston
This past Christmas the Laramie, WY, community and the University of Wyoming lost a citizen and colleague who was in the prime of her career and life, Margie Zamudio, a product of barrios of Los Angeles, who through some fortuitous events, hard work and wise advice from mentors went on to obtain her BA, MA, and PhD at the University of California-Los Angeles. As a product of the underclass of Los Angeles, Margie focused her work on the underdog, with her dissertation examining the role of minorities in the hospitality industry (the back of the desk workers). Her early life experiences and education continued to inform Margie’s research and teaching. Still in its infancy, her research and writing showed signs of extending the strong emphasis in sociology on class, work, gender, and ethnicity.
Margie arrived at the University of Wyoming (UW) in 2002, taking a one-year position. Based on her performance evaluations, Margie was given a full-time position. With the possibility of a tenure-based position in 2003, Margie began to realize her full intellectual potential as well as integrating herself within the academic community, and most importantly, the minority community within the city of Laramie and the UW community. Margie flourished at UW; who would have thought it—an Los Angeles offspring in cowboy Wyoming? A little rough around the edges, Margie’s intellect was well trained and open to new avenues of inquiry, not always simply accepting the adages of luminaries in the field, but at the same time respectful and trying to blend the existing literature with new angles of inquiry. Unlike many academics Margie was always (and often to the extreme) willing to have her writing and teaching examined, evaluated, and "red-penciled." She had an "agenda" but respected new ideas, incorporating them almost spontaneously.
In her short time at Wyoming, Margie produced a co-authored book, had another book contract for a mostly completed manuscript, wrote numerous articles, and delivered a number of paper presentations. But these signs of academic success do not reflect her impact on the discipline, the University of Wyoming or the Laramie community.
As department chair, I had the opportunity to hire Margie. I also had the opportunity to read her writings, review her teaching, and observe her commitment to minority issues on UW and the state as well as her firm commitment to the discipline of sociology. I had the pleasure of seeing her mature into a citizen of the university and a tenured professor. Unfortunately, her early death deprived us not only of a lovely and loved colleague, but of a potential sociological notable. Margie died at the age of 45.Audie Blevins, University of Wyoming