I was on faculty at Carolina from 1994 to 2006. It was a miracle I was hired, since my job talk was pretty bad, but it proved a wonderful department in which to work and I hope I made a useful contribution. When I arrived as a young assistant professor, my chair, Arne Kalleberg, advised me (1) not to study religion, and (2) not to write books, but journal articles instead. As it turned out, writing books about religion was exactly what I did and with more than a little success. Arne now never ceases to recall to me and laugh about that advice he gave. I think the conference honoring Lenski, where he observed that the works of the honoree most remembered are his books, helped shift his thinking too. And since then Arne has put out some books of his own!
Carolina was such an amazing and enriching place for me to work as a young faculty member. It actually functioned fantastically for me like a second graduate-school training program. I learned so very much from both colleagues and graduate students that I came to Carolina not knowing. I owe so much to so many who helped form me as a scholar, directly and indirectly, intentionally and unwittingly. I continue even today recurrently to recognize in myself sensibilities, as I, for example, approach job talks or review papers for journals, that I know I learned at Carolina, for which I am very grateful. Most centrally, if all of American sociology practiced the methodological rigor that was standard at Carolina, we’d all be much better off.
So many specific memories of my time at UNC stick in my mind. Being picked up at RDU in 1993 by Glen Elder for my job interview, my stay at the Carolina Inn, fall departmental picnics, watching from my Hamilton Hall window torrential rain pouring down and flooding the next-door parking lot, Christmas parties at Arne’s house, the ongoing support and advice of Peter Bearman, great lunch conversations with Sherryl Kleinman, working with Bev Wiggins at IRSS, a lunch conversation in the arboretum with Ken Bollen about democracy in Latin America, lunches at Sutton’s downtown with graduate students, post-hurricane scenes of near apocalypse with trees blown down all over campus quads, hearing of the start of the Iraq War during a grad recruitment weekend meeting at Rachel’s Rosenfeld’s home, specific dissertation defenses, Rachel’s memorial service, daily hikes to FGI for survey work on Franklin Street, Social Forces book review editor work in a windowless room across from Dick Simpson’s office, meeting a cold Dick Cramer in Bruegger’s Bagels after a horrible winter ice storm that knocked out electricity for days, working as Associate Chair with an always-rational chair in Howard Aldrich, receiving an email from then grad-student Kraig Beyerlein mid-morning on Sept 11, 2001 that some kind of terrorist attack had taken place in NYC and then watching it unfold on TV in the sociology office with horrified colleagues, and many, many more, both great, difficult, amusing, and fond.
When I left Carolina, it was time to go. But I always continued to admire, love, and be deeply grateful for the place, its people, and its particular departmental culture.
Wm. R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Sociology
University of Notre Dame
816 Flanner Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556