Albert Schaffer

Ph.D. 1957

Apart from the department’s academic excellence in the early fifties, I greatly appreciated the informal culture that valued and encouraged all grad students, both masters and doctoral, as I had earned the master’s degree at a university that, in my opinion, treated grad students poorly.

I have written about my experiences, which include the relatively short time I worked for Dr. Odum compiling data for his revision of “Southern Regions” shortly before he retired. And I also had great admiration for Dr.Vance, who provided a critical assessment of my dissertation. And I met and married Ruth Connor who,for her dissertation, worked with Floyd Hunter on a study in Salem, Mass. which UNC Press later published.

In the statements I have read so far I don’t think mention has been made of Floyd Hunter, whose path breaking study, “Community Power Structure,” which was based on his dissertation, that Dr.Vance supervised. As you know, that book spawned an “industry” of studies and controversies concerning the organization of power on the local level.

George Simpson should be recognized for he was the first head of what later became The Research Triangle Park, which represented, I believe, the culmination of the plan Drs.Odum and Vance had for moving the economy of the South away from dependence on a few cash crops and toward a “modern” economy. My admiration for these two men, and for Katherine Jocher and Gordon Blackwell, has grown over the years for they were among the earliest sociologists who bridged the gap between academic and applied sociology.

Ruthie and I were mainly teachers at Alabama and TAMU, and I at Eastern Michigan. While we published one community study and a social problems text, and a handful of articles, none were of major significance. For one reason or another, we were better teachers than researchers. We were at Alabama during the height of the civil rights conflict, but I have no desire to recall those terrible days. We also participated in and benefitted from TAMU’s conversion from an all male to a coed institution and subsequent expansion, especially in Liberal Arts and Sociology. My wife and I, and a handful of our neighbors fought for four long years to prevent TAMU officials from building a large swine center in our biracial neighborhood. We lost all the legal battles but won the war, as officials did not build the swine center.

I’ve stayed busy since retirement as a hospice volunteer, an officer in my reformed Jewish congregation and, since moving to San Francisco, writing a memoir and taking classes at institutes for senior citizens. Learning is still a passion.

Submitted Summer 2015