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Arne Kalleberg (1990- 2000 and 2003)

I became Chair of the Sociology Department in 1990 and served for two 5-year terms (1990-2000). My predecessor was Jack Kasarda, who also served two five-year terms as Chair, from 1980-1990. Jack’s tenure as Chair was marked by a period of great expansion: he was a very competitive recruiter who was responsible for hiring many stellar faculty members during the 1980s. The 1990s ushered in a period of greater austerity and budget cuts, and so maintaining our excellence rather than expanding the size of the Department became the main challenge. Nevertheless, we continued to hire and retain many first-rate faculty members and continued to build on the traditions established by Howard W. Odum in 1920. This brief summary notes a few major highlights from my decade as Sociology Department Chair.

The Department’s stature was reaffirmed by the 1993 National Research Council study and by the 1994 U.S. News and World Report rankings, which ranked our program fifth in the nation. The external review team that visited the Department in 1994 concurred with this ranking and gave high marks to our faculty members and to our graduate and undergraduate programs.

Throughout the decade, our faculty members continued to produce a steady stream of widely cited books and articles, along with grant proposals and well-trained graduate students. Sociology faculty members were recognized for their achievements in numerous ways, from endowed chairs within the University to awards and elected offices in professional associations (primarily presidents of the Population Association of America and the Southern Sociological Society, but also offices within the American Sociological Association). Sociology faculty members were especially influential and visible leaders in several key areas of the discipline, notably: linking explanations of social phenomena at macroscopic and microscopic levels of analyses; incorporating demographic perspectives into the mainstream of sociology; developing historical and structural models of society and cultural production; and understanding better the organizational and other institutional bases of social stratification.

As the Department gained in stature and strength during the 1990-2000 period, however, its faculty were increasingly coopted to serve the University in ways other than the Sociology Department: Howard Aldrich (Chair, Curriculum in Industrial Relations), Craig Calhoun (Acting Dean of the Graduate School; Director, University Center for International Studies), Glen Elder (Co-Director, Carolina Consortium for Human Development), Jack Kasarda (Director, Kenan Institute for Private Enterprise), John Reed (Director, Institute for Research in Social Science), and Ron Rindfuss (Director, Carolina Population Center). Their leadership of these institutes and centers on the UNC-CH campus reflected the multidisciplinary orientation of many sociology faculty members.

The Department’s reputation was also firmly enhanced by the high quality of our graduate students. Our graduate program continued to turn out well-trained Ph.D.’s ready for careers in both academic and non-academic sectors. Our graduate alumni held highly desirable positions in both academic and nonacademic settings. We did not rest on our laurels during this period, however. The 1994 external review of the Department suggested ways we could improve our already strong graduate and undergraduate programs. The external review committee’s report provided us with the opportunity to consider ways to adapt our curricula to changes in the discipline of sociology and society more generally. As a result, we streamlined our graduate program and enhanced our undergraduate program by creating a more coherent set of prerequisites for upper-level courses.

A major event during this decade was the celebration of the 75thanniversary of the founding of the Sociology Department, held on March 29, 1996. Well over a hundred current and former faculty and graduate students, as well as other friends of the Department, gathered at the George Watts Hill Alumni Center to hear reminiscences from former faculty members Daniel Price, Gerhard Lenski, Peter Marsden, Amos Hawley, George Simpson and Everett Wilson as well as the after-dinner reflections of John Reed and Jack Kasarda. [Pictures from the event to be added.]

Two other notable events during this period were the first and second Howard W. Odum Graduate Symposiums. The first, held on March 18, 1995, was devoted to the theme of “Time Matters: History in the Sociology of Work” and featured distinguished speakers from various universities. The second, held on March 21, 1998, honored the work of Gerhard Lenski and brought to campus many of his former advisees.

There also important changes taking place in the discipline of Sociology, the University and our society during this period, and the Department sought to anticipate and adapt to them. For example, the growing internationalization in social research and ideas was reflected in the increasing emphasis on cross-national and global projects conducted by faculty members and graduate students. The expanding multidisciplinary nature of the social sciences was noted above, as Sociology faculty members played major roles in advancing the integration among disciplines.

There were also numerous opportunities for research and teaching created by advances in computers and electronics. In response to these challenges, we upgraded the Sociology Department’s Odum Graduate Computer Center (located on the second floor of Hamilton Hall), which had long been a center of graduate student activity in the Department. The addition of over a dozen powerful computers (along with new furniture, carpeting, etc.) made the Odum Lab a state-of-the-art facility permitting students to do research, as well as to improve our use of computer instruction in undergraduate methods classes.

Throughout the decade, the Department also continued to support the journal Social Forces, which remained a top-ranked general social science journal and was superbly edited during this period by Richard Simpson.

The Sociology Department thus ended the 20th century where it began in the early years of the century, when it was judged “distinguished” in the 1930s in an American Council of Education evaluation.

Life After Chair

After stepping down as Sociology Department Chair on June 30, 2000, my wife Judith and I spent the 2000-1 academic year as a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation. A respite from the demands of departmental life and the real world enabled me to focus on my research. I was able to concentrate intensively on his various projects, particularly on writing a book and several articles related to employers’ motivations for using flexible staffing arrangements (part-time, temporary and contract work) and the consequences for individuals of working in these nonstandard employment relations. We returned to Chapel Hill in early July 2001, bringing with us memories of what life is like in “The City.”

During the next decade, I was involved in a series of University administrative positions: Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate School (2001-2004), Senior Associate Dean for Social Sciences and International Programs in the College of Arts and Sciences (2004-2007), and Director of International Programs in the College of Arts and Sciences (2007-2008).

Concurrently with these University and College administrative appointments, I remained very involved with Sociology, serving as Secretary of the American Sociological Association (2001-2004) and as its President in 2007-2008. I also served as Acting Chair of the Sociology Department in 2003, during Rachel Rosenfeld’s illness, before handing over the reins of the Department to Howard Aldrich. In July 2010, I took over the editorship of Social Forces. An overview of my scholarly activities can be seen in my CV (

On a personal note, Judith and I continue to love living in Chapel Hill. Among other benefits, we are close to our three children (who live in Raleigh, Charlotte and Nashville) and our three grandchildren (who live in Raleigh and Nashville).
Submitted September 2015