Skip to main content

Paul Lindsay

Ph.D. 1978


I arrived at UNC in the Fall of 1973, during the intermediate time between the Bowerman Era and the Kasarda Era   Of course, I did not know this at that time, but I learned it from reading Glen Elder’s history of the department.  I was in the process of changing careers, after thirteen years in the campus ministry.  It meant a change of status for me.  I had been used to addressing senior faculty by their first names.  I enjoyed working with the members of my mostly younger, fifteen person, entering cohort, as well as the advanced students.  We were in Hamilton Hall.  A new innovative research methods sequence had just been established.  We began our professional socialization with that sequence and with Everett Wilson’s Social Theory — Soc. 201.  At the department party that year, most of our cohort wore T-shirts with the words “Sociology 201 – Incomplete.”


I knew that I wanted to specialize in something related to public policy, but I did not have a specialty in mind.  It took me about a year to decide.   From my experience working in the midst of the turmoil of the politics of higher education during the 1960’s, as well as my experience as a parent of children in public schools, I had many ideas and questions about education.   So eventually I chose to work with Bruce Eckland in the sociology of education and Duncan MacRae in public policy.  Dick Simpson and Jack Kasarda also served on my dissertation committee.  I found the faculty, both senior and junior, including those not in my area of specialization, to be stimulating, accessible, and supportive, as we students gradually learned to be sociologists.   One day in Duncan MacRae’s office, I was talking with Peter Rossi, an expert in evaluating social policies and programs.  Rossi was elected President of the ASA one or two years later.   When I told him I wanted to study education policy, he said, with a smile, “Well, that should give you a lifetime of frustration. ”  I took that to be a cautionary comment about the intellectual challenges of the field, as well as the political obstacles to implementing policies recommended by research.


After finishing my doctorate, I accepted a position in the Sociology Department at UNC-Greensboro, and I had my whole career there.  It was a lively thirteen member department with a diverse faculty and a small masters program.  The department valued both quality research and quality teaching.


My research ranged from analysis of the job satisfaction of preschool teachers and child care workers, with Caroline Lindsay); to the effects of high school size on student participation and satisfaction; to the consequences of higher education for students.  In 1987-88, I returned to UNC as a visiting scholar at the Institute of Research in Social Science, studying effects of higher education.  Bill Knox, Mary Kolb and I published Does College Make a Difference?  Long-term Changes in Activities and Attitudes as well as a number of articles.   My later research focused on conflict resolution in public schools, K-12.  I interviewed teachers and administrators and evaluated programs of peer mediation, conflict resolution, and teacher training in these areas.   In the process of doing this research, I took community mediation training and did some volunteer work as a mediator.


Since I had taken Everett Wilson’s course on teaching sociology, the department at UNCG asked me to create a course on teaching sociology for graduate students.  I also taught sociology of education for undergraduates and graduates (primarily doctoral students in education), and introductory data analysis for graduate students. After teaching introductory sociology with several textbooks, I developed the course using a collection of paperback books.  I always began with Kai Erikson’s Everything in its Path: Destruction of Community in the Buffalo Creek Flood to introduce students to the concepts of social structure and culture.  I benefited from the efforts of the Teaching Sociology section of the ASA and served for several years on an ASA task force on teaching sociology in high schools.  I served a term as President of the North Carolina Sociological Association.


Now I am enjoying retirement — traveling, tennis, grandchildren, and working in political campaigns.  For several years I chaired the board of a small mental health foundation.  I am currently doing volunteer work with a county-wide community organization affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation., 919-604-1699

Submitted September 2015