Lee Cuba

Professor Emeritus 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. Many years ago I pursued these interests through fieldwork in Anchorage, Alaska and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, but I am currently writing about how college students acquire a sense of “at-homeness” on their campuses and how they make other decisions that shape their college experiences. My research is based on a longitudinal study of the Class of 2010 at seven liberal arts colleges funded by the Teagle, Spencer and Andrew W. Mellon Foundations. This collaboration--the New England Consortium on Assessment and Student Learning (NECASL)--seeks to better understand the academic engagement and social interaction of students as they progress through college. 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. My recent book Practice for Life: Making Decisions in College (Harvard, 2016) is co-authored with three faculty colleagues from the NECASL collaborative.

I teach courses that focus on deviance, social control and power. With Anne Brubaker in Wellesley’s Writing Program, I also team-teach Learning by Giving, a course in which students partner with local nonprofit organizations to write grants. 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, 2012-2015), 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 the College’s internship programs, a review of the Honor Code, and the creation of the Ruhlman and Tanner Conferences.


  • B.S., Southern Methodist University
  • M.A., Yale University
  • M.Phil., Yale University
  • Ph.D., Yale University