B.S., Southern Methodist University; M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D., Yale University
Professor of Sociology
Research in the sociology of education with a particular interest in academic and social engagement of college students.
My research is concerned with the acquisition and meaning of place identities, with a particular focus on how migrants come to feel at home in new places. Several years ago I pursued these interests through fieldwork in Anchorage, Alaska and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, but, more recently, I’ve been exploring how college students acquire a sense of “at-homeness” on their campuses. I serve as the Principal Director of the New England Consortium on Assessment and Student Learning, a longitudinal study of the Class of 2010 involving seven selective liberal arts colleges funded by the Teagle, Spencer and Andrew W. Mellon Foundations. This collaboration seeks to better understand the intellectual, social and personal engagement of students as they progress through college. Over the years several Wellesley students have worked with me to design measurement instruments, conduct interviews and focus groups, code and analyze data for this project, and some of these students have used data from this study as the bases for independent studies or theses in sociology. You can find out more about our work by visiting www.wellesley.edu/NECASL.
I teach courses that focus on deviance, social control and power. I also recently team-taught a course with Kate Brogan in Wellesley’s English department, Images of the American City, in which we examined how literary representations and sociological studies of urban life variously responded to the astonishing growth of cities in the twentieth century. In 2008 I was honored to receive the Pinanski Prize for excellence in teaching.
In addition to faculty appointments in the sociology department, I have held a variety of administration positions at the college: chair of the sociology department (1992-1995, 2012-present), associate director of the Writing Program (1993-1995), associate dean of the college (1995-1999) and dean of the college (1999-2004.) During my time in the dean’s office, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to play a role in a number of efforts that shape the educational experiences of Wellesley students, including a revision of the curriculum, an expansion of our internship programs, and the creation of the Ruhlman and Tanner Conferences.