I got my Ph.D. from UNC in 2001 under the direction of Arne Kalleberg. Linda Renzulli (another UNC Soc. 2001 grad) and I had just gotten married, and we both managed to get positions in the Sociology Department at the University of Georgia. Linda had a tenure-track position. I had a teaching post-doc for the first two years and then transitioned to a tenure-track job. We were incredibly lucky. We are both now full professors and have two children. Working at UGA has provided lots of opportunities to pursue research interests. I focus primarily on work-family issues, especially how many hours people work and why. I teach courses in research methods, statistics, and inequality on a regular basis, and I have also had the pleasure of teaching occasionally in Paris. When mentoring new generations of graduate students, I try to pass on the lessons I learned at UNC. Among those lessons are: statistical code is indispensable (Arne Kalleberg), don’t under estimate crosstabs (Howard Aldrich), inequality is as old as humanity (Gerhard Lenski and Francois Nielsen), good journal editors acknowledge and fix their mistakes (Dick Simpson), and happiness is contagious (Jim Wiggins).
I remember my years at UNC as a time of technological advance. When I arrived in the department in 1995, graduate students only worked in the computer lab in the middle of Hamilton Hall when there was no other choice. The windowless room contained a set of aging computers and mismatched furniture. Many people preferred to do their computer work in the basement of the adjacent building where IRSS was housed. Thankfully for us, Francois Nielsen also thought this was a problem, and he had secured a grant to renovate the lab. After much wrangling with the UNC purchasing department (which did most of its calculations using a calculator that had to be plugged in), we entered a new era of computing at UNC. The new computers, matching furniture, and fresh paint were soon followed by other stunning advances. I remember Howard Aldrich introducing us to the Social Science Citation Index, which was at that time a set of books in the library. By 2000, we had access to that information on the internet. When we prepared for comprehensive exams, we went to the library and assembled stacks of journals and spent the day reading them there. By 2000, most articles that we wanted could be accessed electronically in pdf format. In 1995, bibliographies were mostly assembled and checked manually. By 2000, Howard Aldrich had introduced many of us to EndNote, which I still find rather magical. In 1995, there were no computer projectors in the classrooms. Guang Guo taught us statistics using transparencies. When projectors were introduced some years later, they were transported from one room to another on a huge cart that also carried a full-size desktop computer. One thing never changed during my years at UNC: the computer lab never had windows. Perhaps virtual reality has taken care of that problem in the meantime.
My time at UNC was also marked by human triumphs. Rachel Rosenfeld was a remarkably active scholar and mentor when I arrived at UNC, and she was also department chair for some years. Cancer tried its best to end her work, but Rachel would have no part of it. I distinctly remember visiting her at home, where she was reading and commenting on student dissertations from a hospital bed. She was a shining example of generosity and the power of the human spirit. Peter Blau also inspired us to fight through obstacles. He taught the first portion of our classic sociological theory course. He also entertained us with stories of his youth. If I recall correctly, he would run through Vienna wearing a trench coat and throw communist pamphlets everywhere. When the police came, he would discard the coat and sneak away calmly in the tuxedo he wore underneath. This all came to a brief halt when Peter informed us that he would be taking some time off to address some heart problems with a quadruple bypass. He promised to return to class before the end of the semester, and he did. If I ever need a quadruple bypass, I hope I come through it at least half as well as Peter.
Submitted December 2015